Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lord Lucan Failed As a Cool Hand in His First Real Crisis

By William Coles

For a man who fancied himself as a cool hand, Lord Lucan did turn out to be the most abject failure when he faced his first genuine crisis. Although, no-one can be sure about the exact turn of events, it seems likely that the 39-year-old Lucan had been planning Veronica's murder for about a year. Deep in debt and with his wife obtaining sole custody of their three children, murder must have seemed like the ultimate solution to Lucan's problems.

He must have felt like Alexander slashing at the Gordian knot: rather than continuing to lead his mind-numbingly pedestrian life in London, Lucan would have done with it all by killing his wife. With one bound he would be free. A few week's before the night of the planned murder, Lucan borrowed a friend's Ford Corsair. It was in this car that he planned to transport Veronica's body to Newhaven, before dumping it in the Solent.

He had also prepared not one, but two bludgeons - two 18-inch pieces of lead piping, with white taping wrapped round the end for a better grip. He'd planned the murder for a bleak night in November when the children's nanny, 29-year-old Sandra Rivett, had her day off. Veronica would be home alone with the children. But as it turned out, Sandra changed her night off - and Lucan ended up killing the wrong woman. A few minutes later, he fought with Veronica on the stairs of the one-time marital home in Belgravia - and this was another disaster.

Veronica bested Lucan, kneeing him in the groin before fleeing the house. She ran screaming down the street to the nearby Plumber's Arms. But Lucan's final blunder was the one that would inextricably link him to the murder. Lucan drove through the night to Newhaven, where he dumped the Ford Corsair.

There was no point trying to clean the car up: it was covered with his finger-prints and splashes of blood. But as Lucan raced away from the car, he forgot one crucial piece of evidence. He left the spare bludgeon in the boot. This piece of lead piping was near identical to the actual murder weapon that had been left at the scene of the crime. And it was this, more than anything else, which would prove beyond doubt that Lucan was up to his neck in the murder.

William Coles is the talented English editor of Lord Lucan My Story. He is also the author of a moving novel, Prelude, which was published in the UK under the title The Well Tempered Clavier.

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