Did infamous British earl get away with murder?

Getting away with murder and disappearing without a trace seems near impossible these days, but 48 years ago one high-profile figure might have managed to do just that.

Since November of 1974, mystery has shrouded the whereabouts of Richard John Bingham, the 7th Earl of Lucan, since he vanished after his children's nanny, Sandra Rivett, was bludgeoned to death at the London home of his estranged wife.

Lord Lucan, as he was known, was identified as the attacker by his wife, who said she fought with him in the dark after she heard noises in the basement.

“Police searched the cliffs around Newhaven and around Uckfield, which is where he’d gone to visit his brother-in-law, but after an extensive search they hadn’t found anything,” Futurist Dr Richard Hames told Yahoo News’ Conspiracies Unpacked.

Side-by-side image. Left: Lord Lucan in a boat. Right: Policeman on an autogyro flying machine
Police extensively searched for Lord Lucan for some time, even resorting to the use of an autogyro flying machine. Source: Getty Images

A warrant was issued for Lord Lucan's arrest but searches turned up empty and he was never found. An inquest into Rivett's death in 1975 named Lucan as the killer.

Since Lucan disappeared, theories began to circulate about his fate as the media reported on his life in London high society and its gambling underworld.

Escape, murder, revenge - the theories behind Lord Lucan’s disappearance

Lord Lucan’s standing in the community was one of power and prestige, and it has been suggested by many that he was aided in fleeing justice.

“He had the kinds of friends who would hide him, certainly, and aid in any escape or disappearance,” Dr Hames said.

Other popular theories surrounding Lord Lucan’s fate include that he killed himself by jumping into a boat propeller, or that he was fed to a tiger by an enemy, and Dr Hames says there is cause to believe one of these theories may be true.

“The fact is that he was a professional gambler and he owed people a lot of money, he won a lot of money but he lost much more. There were very good reasons why they would want him out of the way,” Hames said.

Lord Lucan 'sighted' in 2020 - is he alive?

The most popular theory surrounding Lucan’s disappearance is that he was able to flee Britain and settle elsewhere, with hundreds of unconfirmed sightings of him reported in various countries around the world.

“They found his passport, car keys, wallet and everything that he would need if he was going to do this by himself still at his home, so he must have had some kind of help,” Dr Hames said.

Merely two years ago, a sighting of the earl was documented here in Australia.

“There was a sighting of a homeless man that looked exactly like Lord Lucan but again he disappeared and nobody could follow up on whether that was accurate or not,” Dr Hames said.

Lord Lucan in the 1970s and a computerised image of what he may look like as an older man
A computer enhanced image was created to show what Lord Lucan may look like today. Source: Getty Images

So, is it plausible that Lucan got away with murder and is now peacefully living Down Under? Dr Hames says yes.

“I think this one is highly probable, that he did disappear and is probably still alive and living in Australia,” he said.

Dr Hames also had a message for Lord Lucan: “It’s never too late to come clean.”

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