The disappearance of Lord Lucan who was suspected of murdering his children’s nanny has become an enduring mystery over the past few decades.
Monday, 7 November marked the 48th anniversary of the day in 1974 when Sandra Rivett was killed, with Lord Lucan – the main suspect in the murder – vanishing shortly after. His wife, Lady Lucan, who was also attacked, identified her husband as the assailant but he had already disappeared.
Despite a police investigation, and widespread press coverage Lord Lucan has never been found - and in the 1990s he was even declared dead.
However, it could be that the mystery of his whereabouts is about to be solved. A facial recognition expert says his “foolproof” technology has definitively matched photographs of Lord Lucan to those of a mystery man living in Australia.
Since he vanished there have been reported sightings of him all over the world, but this latest development means that perhaps he has been living in Australia. But who was Lord Lucan, how old would he be now, and what happened to Sandra Rivett?
Who was Lord Lucan?
Richard John Bingham was a British peer and the 7th Earl of Lucan. He disappeared on 8 November 1974, and is suspected of murdering Sandra Rivett, his children’s nanny.
Lucan, who would be 87 years old if he is still alive today, left his job at a merchant bank and became a professional gambler. He was known for his expensive tastes and drove an Aston Martin. He was even reportedly considered for the role of James Bond.
He married Veronica Duncan in 1963 and the pair who lived in Belgravia, London, had three children. Their marriage fell apart in 1972 and Lucan lost a custody battle. Lucan was declared dead in 1999, though the death certificate was issued in 2016.
What happened to Sandra Rivett?
She was found bludgeoned to death in the kitchen of the Lucan family home on 7 November 1974. Lady Lucan was also attacked after going to see where she was. Lady Lucan identified her husband as the person who had attacked her.
Rivett was 29 years old, and it was reported that she would not normally have been working that night - but changed her day off.
After Rivett’s death, Lucan had driven to see a friend, he also called his mother and asked her to collect his children, as well as saying there had been an incident at the family home. His car was found abandoned in Newhaven.
The inside of the car was stained with blood and its boot contained a piece of bandaged lead pipe similar to one found at the crime scene.
Police issued a warrant for his arrest a few days later, but by this time he had vanished. An inquest into Rivett’s death named Lucan as her killer.
Since he disappeared there have been reported sightings of him in Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, and even in an ex-Nazi colony in Paraguay.
Could Lord Lucan be in Australia?
Professor Hassan Ugail says he has matched images of Lucan to those of a man in Australia. Prof Ugail said he had no idea he was working on the case of the famous aristocratic fugitive when he was asked to compare eight images sent to him by Neil Berriman, the son of Sandra Rivett.
The Professor of Visual Computing at the University of Bradford said he did not know which of the photos were already verified pictures of the missing murder suspect, and an elderly man said to be living in the Brisbane area.
But he said his powerful facial recognition algorithm, developed over the last 20 years, left very little doubt they are all pictures of the same person.
“I compiled the results and then I sent it to him (Mr Berriman) without even knowing anything about this entire case,” Prof Ugail said.
“And then, afterwards, he actually rang me and said, ‘Do I actually realise who this is?’. I said, ‘Not really,’ as I am not particularly familiar with Lord Lucan’s photos. Now I am, but I wasn’t before and I wasn’t particularly familiar with the story either.”
The professor said: “So the results were actually startling in the sense that they all are kind of saying this is the same individual. Having a result like this actually calls, probably, for an investigation.”
Prof Ugail said his algorithm compares 4,000 different points on faces, including the size of features down to individual pixels and skin tones, to make comparisons in images which far outperform the human eye.
The programme has used artificial intelligence to learn over more than a decade from countless faces. He added: “It’s fairly foolproof technology.”
Prof Ugail said Mr Berriman contacted him out of the blue, saying he was “investigating a matter which is very close to his heart”.
Mr Berriman told The Mirror: “I’ve spent nine years trying to prove this man is Lucan. Now, with this new scientific information, the police must act. This isn’t emotion. It’s fact.”