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Austrian doomsday prepper offered to buy neighbour’s cellar before six British children found

Locals of a small Austrian village at the centre of global news story have revealed the conspiracy theory accused of keeping six children in basements have revealed he offered to buy their cellar.

Tom Landon, 54, was arrested after the children - all under the age of five - were discovered in the illegal hideout in Obritz, about 47 miles north of the capital Vienna.

Local media reports said the man, described as a doomsday prepper, was detained for resisting state authority.

Mr Landon is said to have links to the Austrian offshoot of the German Reichsbürger movement, a group that rejects the legitimacy of the state.

“The presumed Reich citizen is known to officials, was firmly convinced of bizarre conspiracy theories and had apparently completely ‘drifted away’ since the Ukraine war,” reported the Kronen Zeitung newspaper.

The raid on his home was launched after officials had been tipped off by neighbours, who had reported hearing children’s voices coming from the building, which had several CCTV cameras. It went suddenly quiet whenever anyone approached.

A local resident said: “Of course we knew the suspect. He also wanted to buy our cellar last year but nobody really knew anything about what was going on.”

54-year-old Tom Landon was accused of keeping his six children in a cellar (OrfTV)
54-year-old Tom Landon was accused of keeping his six children in a cellar (OrfTV)

Mr Landon is said to have fired pepper spray at two local government officials, injuring them both, as they inspected the cellar in Obritz, a village of a few hundred people in wine-growing country, north of Vienna, near the Czech border.

The conspiracist, who was previously an IT worker in North London before moving to Austria, said his family was left traumatised by the raid and condemned officials for “sticking their noses in.”

“This has been very traumatic for my wife and children and it's because people like the deputy mayor have been sticking their noses in where they don't need to be,” Mr Landon told the Mail Online.

“My family is terrified, they won't come back to the house where we lived for nearly a year because they are scared the police may return. Do you know we had police here with guns and a battering ram to get access to my property?

“And all because the deputy mayor doesn't like our chosen lifestyle and wants us out. Do you really think I would be free if I had been keeping my young children in a cellar?”

Tom Landon dismissed claims he was ‘doomsday prepper’ and said he was simply a ‘family man’ and ‘good father’ (Twitter)
Tom Landon dismissed claims he was ‘doomsday prepper’ and said he was simply a ‘family man’ and ‘good father’ (Twitter)

Mr Landon was kept in police custody for 24 hours after pepper spraying officers and social workers.

He described himself simply as a “family man” who wants to make sure he has “everything my children” need.

Mr Landon also denied claims his children are British, saying they were all born in Austria, but they were not registered and were all homeschooled.

He added that he had bought six properties for his children so they could all live together, but says the deputy mayor Erich Greil has ruined his plans because his "off-grid" lifestyle annoyed him.

Mr Landon said: “We chose not to register the children but they are all mine and now we will have to go to Vienna to take DNA tests to prove they are ours. If the authorities were so concerned why have they let the children come back to us?”

He added: “I bought these six properties for the children and I wanted us all to live together when they were older but now this plan has been ruined because the deputy mayor didn't want us here.”