What new Cluedo and AI ‘breakthroughs’ really tell us about Lord Lucan

What happened to Lord Lucan?

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He was declared legally dead in 1999, and a death certificate was issued in 2016, but with reported sightings of the Earl in Australia, questions are being asked about whether he is actually still alive. The then-39-year-old went missing after 29-year-old Sandra Rivett, who worked for his family as a nanny, was bludgeoned to death with a lead pipe in his Belgravia home.

His wife, Veronica, was also attacked but survived, and she said her husband was her attacker.

Lord Lucan disappeared on the night of the murder after driving to a friend’s house in East Sussex in a borrowed car. The vehicle was later found abandoned in Newhaven with bloodstains inside.

And now the Daily Mail reports that detectives investigating the case at the time found three Cluedo cards in his abandoned car: the character Colonel Mustard, a lead pipe murder weapon and the fictional murder location of ‘the hall’.

Miss Rivett’s body was discovered in the basement kitchen, but forensic tests allegedly found blood on the staircase in the hall.

One former investigator told the Mail: “If Lucan did leave the Cluedo cards, it makes me think the whole thing (the murder) was pre-planned.

“It is interesting. It is strange. The more you think about it, the more it has got implications.”

There has been no confirmed sighting of Lucan since a few hours after the nanny’s murder 48 years ago.

But recent reports suggest a British pensioner living in the city of Brisbane in Australia has been identified as the missing Lord Lucan by facial recognition software.

The man was found by Ms Rivett’s son, Neil Berriman. He is 87, the same age Lucan – real name John Bingham – would be.

Australia has long been thought of as the most likely bolt-hole for the former Etonian if he is still alive, but this is believed to be the first time that artificial intelligence has been used to try and prove the theory.

Professor Hassan Ugail says the algorithm linking Lucan to the pensioner in Australia is “never wrong”.

The computer scientist at the University of Bradford used an artificial intelligence algorithm to run 4,000 cross-checks of seven photos – four of Lucan and three of the mystery pensioner.

The expert, who ID-ed two of the Russians behind the Salisbury Skripal poisonings, told the Daily Mirror: “They produced a match. This isn’t an opinion, it’s science and mathematical fact.”

The four Lucan photos analysed ranged from when he was a 14-year-old boy until his disappearance.

Lady Lucan said at the time of the nanny’s death that her husband admitted committing the crime, but that he said it was a mistake. 

It has been reported that she believes Lucan jumped to his death from a ferry leaving Newhaven.

The first reported sightings of Lucan occurred soon after the murder. 

In January 1975 he was supposedly spotted in Melbourne, Australia, and five months later he was apparently seen in France.

And that spring, the Metropolitan Police were informed of a sighting much closer to home when an elderly woman said he had joined the force and should be arrested immediately because he was on point duty in Whitehall.

Police in South Africa examined fingerprints, supposedly left on a beer glass by Lord Lucan in Cape Town.

Sightings were reported in Mozambique and Zimbabwe, and in 1978 Scotland Yard asked Barbados Police to investigate reports that a British resident was sending money to Lord Lucan in South America.

There were even claims that a man who lived in Goa, India, as a hippy in the 1990s was the infamous lord.

Known locally as Jungle Barry, and calling himself Barry Halpin, the man lived within the roots of a banyan tree and taught people to play the penny whistle in exchange for food and drink.

In 2007 neighbours of a Briton living in an old car in New Zealand, with a pet possum, were convinced he was the missing aristocrat because of the homeless man’s ‘upper class’ English accent and ‘military bearing’. 

But Roger Woodgate denied the accusation and said he was a former photographer who moved to New Zealand in the same year Lord Lucan went missing.

A decade ago Lucan’s brother Hugh Bingham said he was sure his sibling had escaped to Africa after the murder.

And in a plot that long pre-dates the hit Netflix series Tiger King, one of Lord Lucan’s friends Phillipe Marcq said the aristocrat shot himself after the nanny’s murder and was then fed to a tiger at a private zoo in Kent owned by his friend John Aspinall.

In 2009 a piece for BBC’s Inside Out South East programme explored the possibility that Lucan might have had plastic surgery after the murder.

If that theory is correct then the recent photo match by Professor Ugail will not have uncovered the missing lord and the mystery will continue.

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