The nearest and most obvious place was his own flat in Elizabeth St only minutes away. There are a few problems associated with this idea. First of all there was no physical sign that he had been there. Why were there no bloodstains? Then, he would in any case have considered it a dangerous place to be, as the police would look there for him first. If he had gone there then it seems logical that he would have collected items such as passport, wallet, etc, and also he would have changed into fresh clothes rather than sponge down the stained ones. But what if he had indeed gone there in order to do just one thing - make a phone call? If he knew it was a dangerous place to be, then he would have made sure to be out of there very quickly without staying to change his clothes. According to Lady Lucan, corroborated by the evidence of Susan Maxwell-Scott, he was not heavily bloodstained, and would not therefore have dripped blood in the flat. The fact that his passport and similar items had not been taken strengthens the suggestion that he had already decided to kill himself. Where he was bound, no passport was required. Everything he did after leaving the house was intended to do two things, first, to ensure that the children were being looked after, and secondly to protect his family from the stain of his guilt. His unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with Mrs. Floorman were probably because she lived nearby and he wanted her to take care of the children. The balance of the evidence is therefore that he made the phone call from his flat.
2. Could anyone have escaped over the back wall? This is extremely unlikely. The wall was very high and overgrown. There was no sign of anyone having clambered over it, or attempting to. (Some years later a burglar was surprised on the premises, and he was unable to escape over the garden wall).
3. Why was there type B blood on the leaves in the garden? This evidence has been used to support the anonymous intruder theory, but there are less complicated explanations. The police had made extensive searches of the premises, and there were two pet cats roaming freely. There was ample opportunity for transference of staining.
4. Why was the back door unlocked? Sally Moore has suggested that some unknown person might have had a key to the house without anyoneís knowledge. One plank of her argument is that on 5th December 1964 some jewellery worth £2000 was stolen from a second floor bedroom of number 46, with no signs of forced entry. In the very same paragraph she mentions that Lucan had received a letter that November pressing him for payment of £1400 in gambling debts. Well, Ms Moore may not be able to see the possible connection between the two incidents, but I certainly can! There is an altogether simpler explanation. Lady Lucan has stated that they were not particularly burglar-conscious in those days and often left the back door unlocked to allow free access to the two cats.
5. How come Lady Lucan was struck several times with the pipe and did not lose consciousness, whereas Sandra died after being hit four times? On the face of it this seems unlikely given Lady Lucanís much slighter build, and this has led to the speculation that Sandra and Lady Lucan were attacked by different people. There are a number of facts to take into consideration. Sandra was hit from behind, while Lady Lucan was hit on the forehead where the bones are thicker. The weapon when found was very distorted. It had originally been a straight length of pipe. At the inquest Lady Lucan described it as a curved object. If it had been straight when used on Sandra and distorted by the first attack, then it would have been a much less effective weapon for the second. Lady Lucan also described her husband as emotionally exhausted after his attack on her. His emotional state could have reduced the effectiveness of the attack on her.
6. What about the statements that Lord Lucan had been seen outside the Clermont at 8.45pm and then at 9pm? Marnham, who feels that Lord Lucan hired a hitman, suggests that the 8.45 visit was made to establish an alibi. If so, it was a pretty flimsy alibi, when one considers the likely margin of error in memory of time, and the fact that the distance between the club and the house could be covered in a few minutes. I also note that according to the linkman, Lucan was in the Mercedes. Certainly, if he had wanted to establish an alibi, this was the car to do it in, the one people would have been familiar with, but that car was found with a flat battery outside Lucanís flat at 11.50, some two hours after the "sighting". Do we even know if the car was driveable that night? If it was not, then the linkman cannot have seen Lucan in the Mercedes that evening at all.
Was Lord Lucan, as has been suggested, standing on the steps of the Club at 9p.m? This approximates either to the time of the murder (Lady Lucanís timing) or the attack on Lady Lucan (Lady Francesí timing). Looking at the times, remember that all the three theories (guilty, innocent, hitman) place Lord Lucan at 46 Lower Belgrave St at the time of the attack on Lady Lucan. Let us look at Lady Francesí timing first. Since she states that Lady Lucan went downstairs at just before the 9 oíclock News, and we know that Lady Lucan was attacked very soon after reaching the basement stairs, this times the attack at the very time when Lord Lucan is said to have been standing outside the Clermont. In none of the three scenarios is this possible. Now let us look at Lady Lucanís timings, which place the attack on herself at about 9.15. It could be suggested that Lord Lucan was establishing an alibi before going to the house, either to commit murder or to clear up after the hitman, but as already stated, this is not much of an alibi. Surely he would not have wanted anyone at all to know he was even in the area. If the sighting is accurate, then it can only fit with Lord Lucanís story, which has already been discredited by forensic evidence. The conclusion can only be that Lord Lucan was not standing on the steps of the Clermont at 9p.m. on the evening of the murder, though he may well have been there at another time that day, and had certainly been there at just that time on numerous other occasions.
7. Why was there a single spot of type A blood in the basement? Lady Lucan has confirmed that she did not set foot in the basement after the murder and never saw the mail bag. The simplest explanation is accidental transference as mentioned at point 3 above.
8. How did smears of blood type A get on the outside of the murder sack? It has been suggested that the blood got on the sack as it brushed against the walls while being carried up, but the sack was seen by reporters being removed from the house wrapped in plastic. Was it wrapped before or after it went up the stairs? The evidence as published does not make this clear. Again, accidental transference is the theory that makes most sense.
9. Why was there no type B blood in the ground floor cloakroom where Lord Lucan was supposed to have lain in wait for Lady Lucan, and none upstairs where he went to tend her wounds? There was a great deal of speculation about the likely amount of staining on the murderer, but Lady Frances did not observe any blood on her father though she was near enough to notice the blood on her mother. Once again, the evidence of Lady Lucan and Susan Maxwell-Scott suggests that Lord Lucan was not as heavily stained as has been supposed. Lady Lucan has also pointed out that the blood splashes in the house were not as extensive as has been often reported.
10. What heppened in the gap of time between Sandraís death and the attack on Lady Lucan? Lady Lucan has suggested that Sandra went to make the tea at about 8.55 and she went to look for her at 9.15. Alternative evidence for time is that of Frances, who noted when things happened by reference to the start and end of TV programs she was watching. According to her, Sandra went down to make the tea at about 8.40 to 8.45. She would have been killed almost immediately - the tray of dirty crockery she was taking down to the kitchen was found scattered on the floor at the bottom of the stairs. But whatever the time Sandra went to make tea, Lady Lucan didnít go to look for her for about 20 minutes. This makes sense - after all, you expect someone to take about 10 minutes or so to make tea and do some washing up, so you donít start wondering where they have got to until about 20 minutes have passed. But what was the killer doing during that time? Assuming the killer was Lord Lucan, he had discovered his mistake, and was putting the body in the sack. He knew that his wife would soon be coming downstairs and he was waiting for her to arrive. As I have already observed, the theoretical hitman or burglar would probably have run off immediately.
11. What happened between the attack on Lady Lucan and her running from the house? The gap is about 35 minutes and in many ways is the key to the mystery. I will return to this point later.
12. Why was Lord Lucan not heavily bloodstained? When an attack is made with a blunt instrument, the result is often a fine spray of blood, not immediately visible to the eye, but obvious to detailed forensic examination. The main areas of heavy staining, if Lord Lucan had put the body in the sack, were his hands and possibly the lower part of his clothing, also the soles of his shoes, from stepping into the spreading pool of blood. (He had in any case admitted to stepping in the blood.) His hands were stained with both type and A and B, as the smears on the letters and in the car show. Susan Maxwell-Scott has given evidence that his trousers looked as though they had recently been sponged.
Planning a Murder
Some friends of Lord Lucanís tell very interesting stories. One was Greville Howard, the lessee of the mews cottage, and one of the people who had waited at the Clermont that night at the table Lucan had booked. One week after the murder he went voluntarily to the police and told them that a fortnight before the murder he had had a conversation with Lucan in which his friend had suggested that a way out of his troubles was to kill Lady Lucan, and had even discussed the idea of dumping her body in the Solent. He knew that he was about to go bankrupt, and he needed to get possession of the house in order to clear his debts and save the reputation of the family. Bankruptcy was for him a public humiliation he did not think he could stand.
The writer Taki Theodoracopoulos has said without quoting his sources, that Lucan bought a 20ft speedboat in the year before he disappeared. The boat, he states, was kept moored on the South Coast, and in 1974 Lucan made two dummy runs, from Belgravia to the South Coast with a sack weighing 8 stone. The sack was then loaded into the boat and he headed out into the Channel. Lord Lucan certainly knew about power-boats, having competed in the Cowes-Torquay race in 1964, though there is no evidence that he ever owned a boat, and Lady Lucan is certain that he did not. Taki also said that Lord Lucan had borrowed £5000 from him shortly before the murder, having already borrowed £3000 from a moneylender at a high rate of interest the previous September. Patrick Marnham suggests that the money was to pay a hitman, but there are numerous other reasons why Lord Lucan might have required such sums.
Lord Lucan is also said to have told John Aspinall and his mother Lady Osbourne that he wanted to kill his wife, and Lady Osbourne that he actually intended to. Of course, it would be a normal human reaction not to take such talk seriously.
Lord Lucan or a hired killer?
I have already mentioned how in Lord Lucanís first letter to Bill Shand Kydd he refers to Lady Lucan having accused him of hiring someone to kill her, a statement which she denies making. He also states that he does not want the children to see him in the dock accused of "attempted murder". This mention of the lesser charge would fit in with his wish to protect the family.
Patrick Marnham and James Ruddick both believe that unable to commit the crime himself, Lord Lucan hired someone to do it for him. A professional, however, knowing that the body was to be disposed of neatly would hardly have used a bludgeon, which anyone but an amateur would have known would spray blood all over the place. To account for what happened, Marnham suggests that Lucan hired a good hitman who was unable to come that night and sent a bungling associate! This is rather straining credulity. A simpler explanation is that the bungling amateur was Lord Lucan himself.
Marnham believes that Lord Lucanís part in the affair was to dispose of the body. In his scenario, the hired man kills Sandra, but does not put the body in the sack. He reports success to Lucan who is nearby, and Lucan goes round to the house to discover, to his horror, that the wrong woman has been killed and the cellar is in a mess. Checking to see if Sandra is dead, he gets some smears of blood on his clothing. This is simply speculation. If Lord Lucan was too squeamish to commit the murder why would he volunteer to dispose of the body?
The death of Sandra Rivett and the survivial of Lady Lucan have led to the suggestion that they must have been attacked by different people. I have already discussed this point at question 5 above.
The "hitman" theory is altogether too complicated, and it fails to take one very important fact into account.
Lord Lucan confessed to his wife that he had murdered Sandra Rivett.
Lord Lucan - Murderer.
Even without the confession ( mention of which has been conveniently omitted from previously published works) it is clear that the overwhelming weight of the evidence points clearly to Lord Lucan alone being both the murderer of Sandra Rivett and the attacker of Lady Lucan.
Lord Lucan knew that the nanny would be out that night, and that Lady Lucan would come down at about 9p.m. to make the tea. It was pure chance that Sandra Rivett was in and volunteered to make the tea. Sandra was the same height as Lady Lucan. The darkness and Lord Lucanís emotional state meant that he saw what he expected to see, and killed the nanny, the blows distorting the lead piping into a curved shape. As he put the body into the sack, he realised his error, but decided to go ahead with the murder of his wife and lay in wait. Lady Lucan survived the attack because the blows were on the front of her skull, and she fought back, also the distorted pipe was not such an effective weapon. The shock of pain when she squeezed his testicles, and his emotional state caused the attack to cease. Exhausted, they sat on the stairs and talked. Lady Lucan asked her husband where Sandra was. At first he said that she had gone out, but she insisted that Sandra would never have done this without telling her. Eventually he admitted that he had killed her. In the next half hour the badly injured Lady Lucan found the resources she needed to save her own life. The front door was just too far for her to be able to make a break for it and run. She played for time, calming him down, persuading him that Sandra would not be missed, that they could dispose of the body together, that he could go out and meet his friends while she told the police she had been attacked by a burglar, that she would do whatever he asked.
Lucan thought about this, and said. "I must make a decision". He then asked her if she had any sleeping tablets. She said yes, that they were upstairs. He asked her if she would take an overdose, and to placate him she agreed to do so, if he would just permit her to lie down and rest. He pulled her to her feet and said that they would leave together and she would take her pills. He hustled her upstairs and she lay down on the bed while he went to the bathroom to wet some cloths. As the taps started to run she knew that she had only seconds to get away, the noise of the water covering the sound of her footsteps. She got up, crept downstairs, and ran. She did not, as Lord Lucan suggested, scream "Murder!" as she ran down the street. With the terrible injuries to her head and the lacerations to her palate and throat caused by Lord Lucanís gloved fingers, she saved every scrap of her energy and voice for when she burst into the Plumbers Arms.
The books which suggest that Lord Lucan is innocent of the murder of Sandra Rivett say only that he told Lady Lucan that Sandra was dead. Lady Lucan goes further than that. Her husband told her he had killed the nanny. When we know this then everything that happened subsequently falls into place. Once he had made the confession he must have determined that his wife must die, though not as originally planned. Quite what he imagined anyone would make of the battered corpse of the nanny, and Lady Lucan an apparent suicide from an overdose, we can never know. When he came out of the bathroom and found that she had run from the house carrying with her the knowledge of his confession, then he knew he was a dead man. From that moment on, all his actions were aimed at one thing, protecting the family reputation. First he wanted to ensure that the children were being looked after, but secondly he wanted them to be free from the shame and scandal of their father in the dock accused of a crime. The other great scandal he wanted to avoid was bankruptcy. The only way he could do that was to disappear. The only way he could be absolutely certain that he would never have to face the consequences of his actions was to die.
The odds are that Lord Lucan is dead. Many of his friends believe that he simply took a speedboat or ferry out into the Channel, and leaped over the side. Gamblers do not often give up, but English gentlemen have been known to do the decent thing. The shame of appearing in the dock accused of murder, and of financial ruin, was something he did not want to face, both on a personal level, and also for his familyís sake.
Had Lady Lucan wished to remarry she could have sought a decree of presumption of death seven years after her husbandís disappearance, but chose not to do so as she felt it would not have been in the best interests of her family. The 7th Earl of Lucan was officially presumed dead on 11 December 1992, at which time his son George became the 8th Earl, although he prefers not to use the title. Probate was granted on 11 August 1999, with the Countess of Lucan the sole beneficiary of her late husbandís residuary estate.
© Linda Stratmann 2000
1. 7th Nov 1974
The most ghastly circumstances arose tonight which I briefly described to my mother. When I interrupted the fight at Lower Belgrave St and the man left Lady Lucan accused me of having hired him. I took her upstairs and sent Frances up to bed and tried to clean her up. She lay doggo for a bit and when I was in the bathroom left the house. The circumstantial evidence against me is strong in that V will say it was all my doing. I also will lie doggo for a bit but I am only concerned for the children. If you can manage it I want them to live with you - Coutts (trustees) St Martins Lane (Mr. Wall) will handle school fees. V. has demonstrated her hatred of me in the past and would do anything to see me accused. For George & Frances to go through life knowing their father had stood in the dock for attempted murder would be too much. When they are old enough to understand, explain to them the dream of paranoia, and look after them
2. Financial matters
There is a sale coming up at Christies Nov 27th which will satisfy bank overdrafts. Please agree reserves with Tom Craig.
Proceeds to go to:
Lloyds, 6 Pall Mall
Coutts, 59 Strand
Nat West, Bloomsbury Branch
Who also hold an
Eq. and Law Life Policy.
The other creditors can get lost for the time being.
My dear Michael,
I have had a traumatic night of unbelievable coincidences. However I wonít bore you with anything or involve you except to say that when you come across my children, which I hope you will, please tell them that you knew me and that all I cared about was them.
The fact that a crooked solicitor and a rotten psychiatrist destroyed me between them will be of no importance to the children.
I gave Bill Shand Kydd an account of what actually happened but judging by my last effort in court no-one, let alone a 67-year-old judge, would believe - and I no longer care except that my children should be protected.