On this day in history : 8th November 1974 – Police launch a manhunt for Lord Lucan, following his disappearance after the murder of his children’s nanny and an attack on his estranged wife….

Richard John Bingham, 7th Earl of Lucan, married Veronica Duncan in 1963 – and they had three children…. The marriage broke down in 1972 and Lucan moved out of the family home in Belgravia, London into a nearby flat…. A bitter custody battle over the children followed, which Lucan lost…. He became a man obsessed – stalking his wife and recording their telephone conversations….

Lord Lucan and his wife, 1963 – Photoshot.com – Fair use

On the night of the 7th of November Sandra Rivett, the 29-year-old nanny to the children, was bludgeoned to death with a blunt instrument in the basement of the family home…. The assailant had presumably intended to move her body, as when she was found she had been placed in a sack….

Sandra Rivett – unknown photographer, used in the Daily Mail – Fair use

On disturbing the intruder Lady Lucan was attacked and beaten around the head with a piece of lead piping….and left for dead…. Despite this she managed to stumble to a nearby public house, the Plumbers Arms – and raise the alarm…. Lady Lucan named her husband….he, meanwhile, had fled….

The Plumbers Arms – Carcharoth (Commons) CC BY-SA 3.0

At 10.30pm Lucan phoned his mother and asked her to collect the children…. At 11.30pm he arrived at the house of the Maxwell-Scotts, some friends in Uckfield, East Sussex…. He told them that he had been walking passed the house and had looked in through one of the basement windows – to see someone struggling with his wife in the basement kitchen…. He let himself in and rushed down the stairs, managing to slip in a pool of blood; by this time the attacker had managed to escape…. Lucan claimed he had calmed his wife down but whilst he visited the bathroom she had run from the house screaming murder…. He realised how bad it looked for him – panicked and fled….

46, Belgrave Street, Belgravia – Carcharoth (Commons) CC BY-SA 3.0

Lucan’s car, a Ford Corsair, that he had borrowed from a friend a couple of weeks before, was found abandoned in a quiet residential street in New Haven, early the next morning…. Lord Lucan was never officially seen again….

A popular theory is that he had mistaken Sandra Rivett for his wife in the dark….it was Lady Lucan he had intended to murder….realising his error he drowned himself in New Haven Harbour…. There has been much speculation over the years as to what happened to Lord Lucan – some believe he fled to Africa of South America and has led a secret life ever since…. Another far-fetched theory was that he went to his friend John Aspinal’s zoo in Kent – and shot himself…. His remains were then fed to a tiger named Zorra….

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