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Man arrested after six British children found living in wine cellar in Austria

An Austrian police officer  (Getty Images)
An Austrian police officer (Getty Images)

A family including six young children born in Britain were found living in an abandoned wine cellar in a small Austrian village.

An unnamed man, 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, who has been linked to conspiracy theories and those rejecting the Austrian state, was detained for resisting state authority.

Social services called the police after the man, who is said to be Austrian but working in Britain, pepper sprayed officials who had been sent to check on the family.

Police broke in after he barricaded himself into the cellar, where the family was said to be living for several months.

Guns were found inside the cellar, which had been bought for an English company, the Daily Telegraph reported.

It had been renovated to make them more comfortable and were equipped with surveillance cameras, the paper said.

But authorities said the sanitation was inadequate and therefore unsuitable for children.

"The surveillance cameras in front of the cellar were particularly annoying, and residents sometimes heard children’s voices in the basement, and as soon as they approached it was quiet," deputy mayor Erich Greil told local media.

The man was released on Thursday evening after prosecutors said he posed no risk to children, according to the Telegraph, which added that authorities were checking if the guns were legally owned.

Police sources told The Telegraph there was no suggestion of any sexual abuse of the children found in the cellar in the Lower Austrian village of fewer than 500 people.