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The mysterious life of Lord Lucan — fourteen facts about the missing Anglo-Irish Earl

Lord Lucan — death certificate finally issued. Picture: BBC
Lord Lucan’s death certificate has finally been issued 42 years after he disappeared (Picture: BBC)

1. Death certificate

On February 3, 2016, a high court judge granted a death certificate to the family of Lord Lucan, 42 years after his disappearance. He can now be presumed dead, and his title passed to his son.

2. Vanished into thin air 

Lord Lucan disappeared in 1974 after his children’s nanny Sandra Rivett was bludgeoned to death in London. His wife was also attacked.

3. Guilty, m’lord

A coroner’s court ruled in 1975 at an inquest that Lucan was responsible for Ms Rivett’s murder, based on the evidence of Veronica Duncan Lady Lucan.

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4. Nasty Split

Lucan was involved in a highly acrimonious split with his wife at the time of his murder.

5. The police view

Scotland Yard believed it could have been a matter of mistaken identity — that Lucan attacked Rivett believing she was his wife.

6. Lucan’s flight

Shortly after the killing, Lucan absconded, first to stay with a friend in Sussex. He claimed later claimed in letters that during “a traumatic night of unbelievable coincidence” he interrupted a fight between an intruder and the nanny. However he admitted: “The circumstantial evidence against me is strong.”

Lord and Lady Lucan. Picture: Getty Images
Lord and Lady Lucan. Picture: Getty Images

7. Suspected sightings

Soon after, Lucan’s car was found in Newhaven. Although there have been ‘sightings’ of him over the decades since the murder, the last positive identification of him was in 1974, before he left for Newhaven.

8. Much-travelled man

Sightings of Lucan have been made throughout the world. He has been ‘spotted’ in Paris cafes, Irish pubs and driving a New York taxi. He has also been ‘seen’ in an ex-Nazi colony in Paraguay, working in a vineyard in the Rioja region of Spain, running a sheep station in the Australian outback, backpacking on Mount Etna and working as a waiter in San Francisco. He was also believed to have settled in Africa, and lived the life of a hippie in India under the name ‘Jungle Barry’. One theory states that he was held to ransom by the IRA who shot him, while another says that he was fed to the tigers at a zoo in Kent belonging to his friend John Aspinall. Despite police enquiries into some of the less bizarre claims, no evidence to support any sightings was ever confirmed.

9. Suicide?

His wife Veronica Duncan, Lady Lucan, believed that he committed suicide by jumping off the Newhaven ferry. However, no body was ever recovered which might be regarded as unusual, although not impossible.

10. Aristocratic bearing

Lord Lucan was a very handsome aristocrat, a seasoned (although not always successful) gambler, and Eton-educated. He served as an officer in the Coldstream Guards.

lady-lucan-n11. Lucky or unlucky?

His nickname, due to early success at the gaming tables, was Lucky Lucan. His luck did desert him later, and he recorded heavy losses including one night when he lost today’s equivalent of £90,000.

12. The 007 connection

Lucan’s suave good looks led him to be considered for the part of James Bond. But he declined an offer from film producer Cubby Broccoli, to screen test for the role.

13. The Irish connection

Lucan’s fill title was Earl of Lucan, Baron Lucan of Castlebar. The title, in the Peerage of Ireland, dates back to 1691. The subsidiary titles associated with the Earldom are Baron Lucan, of Castlebar in the County of Mayo (created 1776), and Baron Bingham, of Melcombe Bingham in the County of Dorset (1934).

14. “All in the valley of death. . .”

The title first achieved notoriety when George, 3rd Earl of Lucan, served as cavalry commander in the Crimean War. He was one of the officers involved in the ill-fated Charge of the Light Brigade.

 

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Mal Rogers
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Mal Rogers is a columnist and reporter with The Irish Post

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