BEHIND the shiny veneers and glamorous lifestyles, the cast of Towie – along with their family and friends – have been linked to plenty of seedy crimes.
Elliott Wright has become the latest to be affected as his Marbella restaurant went up in flames in what he claims was an arson attack.
Wright's Costa del Sol venue, Olivia's La Cala, burnt to the ground in the early hours of Monday morning, just a month after Elliot – Mark Wright's cousin – lost his dad to Covid.
Yesterday he uploaded a video to Instagram saying he was "devastated,"as he showed his 648,000 followers the blackened ruins of his restaurant.
"And I can say now that it is arson.
"Someone's come and took my whole dream away for whatever reason — I will never know."
From acid attacks to overseas gold heists, here are some of the most shocking crimes some of The Only Way is Essex stars have been caught up in.
Beaten half to death
Towie cast members have been the victims of nightclub violence — as was the case with Sam and Billie Faiers.
A gang of girls set upon the sisters in the Jet Black club in London in 2011.
Sam was left needing a brain scan after being beaten unconscious in the attack, while Billie was dragged along the street by her hair.
They then stole Billie's jewellery, shoes, and £1,500 Mulberry bag which contained her house keys and mobile phone.
One of the attackers later used the phone to call Sam offering to return the stolen items if she came to a specific location.
Sam agreed and got a cab to the meeting place in Chigwell, Essex — where she was immediately attacked again.
"I was smashed to the ground and just beaten," Sam told The Sun after the assault.
"I was punched in the face and kicked in the head."
The assault only ended when one of the attackers feared they'd beaten Sam to death.
“If a kick had landed any differently I COULD be dead,” Sam added.
Gun crime and gold heists
The same year Sam and Billie were attacked, their father was revealed to have been convicted of assault too.
Estranged dad, Lee, was made to attend a domestic abuse programme after being found guilty of attacking then-girlfriend Fay Simmons in 2010.
Then in 2012, their step-dad David Chatwood was jailed for his part in a £1.1million gold bullion heist in Belgium.
Chatwood, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal bullion, was given four years, but was released after just four months after spending seven-and-a-half months on remand.
Six other men involved in the heist were also convicted.
Chatwood had previously been jailed jailed for 12 years in 2002 after being found with 140,000 ecstasy pills, 130kg of cannabis, two pistols and live ammunition.
"When my dad did get sentenced I actually took it really hard," Sam said on The Mummy Diaries of David's jail time.
"As a child I suppose you don't really know how to express those emotions."
After hours assault charges
Mark Wright has also had his own brushes with the law.
The Crawley Town footballer appeared in court to answer charges of using threatening behaviour outside his nightclub in January 2011.
He was alleged to have seen "red" after hearing 21-year-old Tom Grantham saying he would through a brick through the window of Wright's club, the Deuces Bar and Lounge.
Mark, who co-owned the club with Jack Tweed, was cleared of all charges but Tweed admitted common assault in relation to the incident involving Grantham.
Tweed, Jade Goody's widower, recently revealed he's finally found love again 12 years on from the Big Brother's death.
Wright also had a bizarre link with a murder victim when a photo of them together emerged.
Paul Simmons-Turner was shot in the mouth by a masked gunman as he was sitting in his car next to the Marriott hotel in Waltham Abbey, Essex, in December 2015.
Simmons-Turner survived the initial attack, managing to flag down a car as he tried to run from his attacker.
But the gunman chased after the car and shot Simmons-Turner again.
Despite the photo of them together, Mark denied being friends with Simmons-Turner.
The Deuces Bar was also at the heart of a different police matter when it went up in flames after a suspected arson attack.
Firefighters rushed to the venue in 2010 after it was set on fire on its opening night.
A brick was also thrown through one of the club's windows.
The incendiary incident was followed by another blaze involving the Towie cast when Lauren Goodger's salon was petrol bombed.
The 2012 firebombing of Lauren's Way in Buckhurst Hill came the day after the salon had been egged by vandals on its opening day.
Goodger said there was about £10,000 worth of damage from the fire and she ended up spending £750 on steel security shutters.
Multi-million pound mastermind claims
Cara Kilbey was on Towie for four series before leaving in 2012 — with her boyfriend Daniel Harris making headlines in the years since.
He was accused of running a multi-million pound London drugs empire pulling in £500,000 a week in 2017.
The operation involved dealers being sent on mopeds disguised as trainee cab drivers.
He was cleared of two counts of conspiracy to supply cocaine but was convicted of one count of possession of criminal property.
Cops found £116,000 in cash stuffed inside an Asda shopping bag inside a black holdall and a stash of designer goods in his daughter's bedroom.
He was sentenced to two years but was released in February 2017 after spending nearly a year on remand in Wandsworth prison.
Lauren Goodger has also had a partner with a criminal history.
For two years, she dated Joey Morrison — who was sentenced to 16 years in 2010 after dressing as a postman to burgle properties in Enfield, north London.
When Morrison was arrested in 2009, police also found £60,000 worth of cocaine and a £90,000 Land Rover.
In 2018, shortly before his release from Highpoint South prison, Morrison was accused of sending female "fans" explicit snaps from his cell.
“How silly was I to love and trust someone and give them my all," Goodger wrote on Instagram after she dumped Morrison following news of his flirty messages.
“I was with a complete control freak… took over me and my life.”
Gemma Collins also had trouble with a partner who was in and out of prison.
Stephen Mortimer dated Gemma between 2015 and 2016.
He was sentenced to two years for GBH and, after being released early, breached the terms of his licence by moving into the GC's house in Brentwood.
He was taken back to prison while she was in the Celebrity Big Brother house.
When she came out, they broke up after she accused him of cheating on her.
Later in 2016, Mortimer was jailed again after he was convicted of stealing £100 in coins in a burglary, 11 days after stealing jewellery.
Ferne McCann's ex acid attack
Ferne McCann's ex was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for squirting acid across a nightclub dancefloor.
Arthur Collins, who was 25 at the time of the 2017 attack, left 22 people injured at the Mangle club in east London.
Cops caught Collins after he fled to Northamptonshire in the wake of the assault, which left at least one of his victims feeling suicidal.
Ferne, who was pregnant with Collins' child at the time of the assault, dumped him immediately.
She gave birth to their daughter, Sunday, in 2017.
Collins later admitted hiding a mobile phone inside a crutch so he could secretly call her while on remand at HMP Thameside in London.
Drug charges and race claims
James Lock has also had his run-ins with police — including on drug charges.
The 34-year-old reality star, who recently split from Yazmin Oukhellou, pleaded guilty to possessing ketamine in 2014.
He was arrested on suspicion of possessing Class A drugs and criminal damage after he and another man were involved in a dispute with a taxi driver in Dagenham, Essex.
Lock was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay £85 in costs.
He was also temporarily suspended from Towie during the investigation.
Lock was also accused of using racial slurs against two people at a pool party in Chigwell in 2015, but he was later cleared of any wrongdoing.
'He just started snorting this stuff'
Lock isn't the only Towie star to be in trouble with drugs, with Mario Falcone allegedly being caught on camera snorting cocaine.
A 2014 video appeared to show Mario taking the stimulant in a friend's kitchen.
“We had been out as a group and wanted to carry the party on," a source said at the time.
“Mario had his own ideas on how to do that, though.
“He just started snorting this stuff in front of everyone. No one could
believe their eyes.”
Mario later apologised for the incident, saying he'd received professional help after going "off the rails".
“I would like to publicly apologise to my loyal family and friends, all of my co-stars on Towie, to ITV and most importantly all of the fans," he said in a statement.
The cocaine incident came three years after police cautioned Falcone for assaulting an 11-year-old boy.
He confronted a group of youths making lewd comments about his partner at the time, Lucy Mecklenburgh, outside his home in Essex.
Mario grabbed one of them by the throat and was arrested for assault.
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