This week, we’re going to tell you about the murder of Sandra Rivett.
It’s one of those cases where the alleged murderer and the circumstances surrounding it are more well known than the woman who was brutally murdered. You probably have heard about this case, but we want to come at it from a different direction. We want to talk about Sandra first.
Sandra was born on 16 September 1945 in the UK and her family moved to Australia when she was two. The family then returned to the UK when Sandra was eight years old. Although Sandra was not academic, she was described as intelligent and popular at school. She took various jobs including apprentice hairdresser, secretary, carer and latterly, a nanny. Sandra got engaged to builder called John and they had a son, Stephen in 1964. Sadly their relationship broke down and Sandra moved back home. Her parents later adopted her son in 1965. She moved to Portsmouth to stay with her sister and met Roger Rivett, a Royal Navy seaman. They married in June 1967.
They later divorced in May 1974 and by that time Sandra was listed on the books of a domestic agency in Belgravia, London.
She began working for Richard John Bingham and Veronica Mary Duncan as a nanny, caring for their three children in late 1974 at the family home in Belgravia. Richard and Veronica had separated and their separation was definitely not amicable. A bitter dispute relating to the custody of the children raged on. Veronica reported to a former nanny that Richard had beaten her with a cane and pushed her down the stairs. Veronica feared for her safety, telling that nanny that it would come as no surprise “if he kills me one day”.
Sandra used to visit or go out with her then boyfriend on Thursday nights, however on Thursday, 7 November 1974, as she had seen him the night before, she switched her night off. She spoke with her boyfriend that night on the phone and then put the children to bed. She asked Veronica whether she would like a cup of tea, but when she entered the kitchen (located in the basement), she was brutally bludgeoned to death by someone wielding a lead pipe and her body placed in a canvas sack.
Veronica, concerned about the time Sandra was taking, went to find her, calling her from the stairs to the basement kitchen. Veronica herself is then attacked and she screams out. She is told to “shut up” by her attacker and Veronica claims that at this point she recognises the voice being that of her husband. He grabs her by the throat and she fights back. The fight ends when Veronica grabs her attacker, her husband, Richard Bingham, by the balls and squeezes. She questions him as to the whereabouts of Sandra. He is evasive at first, but after probing questions, he admits he killed Sandra. Veronica is terrified at this point. She’s in a house, with her children and with her husband who just admitted to murdering their nanny. She tells him she can help him escape and when she goes upstairs to get some sedatives from the bathroom, she runs outside to the nearest pub to raise the alarm. Veronica is convinced that her husband came to the family home that night to murder her. Due to Sandra’s change of working hours, the Richard mistook the nanny for his wife and attacked her instead.
This is the part where you might recognise the well known part of this case.
Richard John Bingham was also known as Lord Lucan, the 7th Earl of Lucan. Lord and Lady Lucan lived in a home 15 minute walk from Buckingham Palace. Lord Lucan worked as a banker before becoming a professional gambler, earning the nickname Lucky Lucan. He lived a somewhat lavish lifestyle and had expensive tastes ranging from power boating to driving Aston Martins.
Back to the murder, police quickly discover that Richard has disappeared. They search his flat, find his car, passport and personal belongings there. His photo and name are circulated by local police but he is nowhere to be found. The last sightings of him include a telephone call he placed to his mother asking her to collect the children and then driving a borrowed Ford Corsair to a friend’s property in East Sussex which he later leaves. When the car is searched they find inside a piece of lead pipe, similar to the murder weapon and the inside the car has bloodstains. It is later suspected by that the pipe found at the scene and the pipe in the car were cut from a longer piece yet this could not be conclusively determined.
He was declared dead in February 2016 but there are a number of theories as to where he went and whether he is in fact dead which are:
- Detective Chief Superintendent Roy Ranson claimed that he had quote ‘done the honourable thing’ and killed himself and this was echoed by numerous friends of Lucan. John Aspinall, before his death in 2000, believed that he had jumped from a cross channel ferry with a stone tied to his body. Veronica agreed that he also would have killed himself quote “like the nobleman he was’. It is further theorised that his gambling debts and potential bankruptcy were another catalyst for his suicide.
- Some believe he moved abroad to either southern Africa, New Zealand or Greece.
- Others believe he was helped out of the country, but then deemed to be too great a risk to be discovered with and so was killed and buried in Switzerland.
- There have been numerous sightings around the world of Lord Lucan, in France, Colombia and India.
- The favourite theory comes from the moth of John Aspinall, who owned one of the zoos in Kent (south east England). She said quote “The last I heard of him, he was being fed to the tigers at my son’s zoo”. Phillipe Marcq, a stockbroker, also believed this theory, stating he believed Lucan shot himself and was fed to a tiger called Zorra. This led to a massive search of the zoo’s animal cages and numerous country homes and estates. The zoo owner, John Aspinall, later said quote ““My tigers are only fed the choices cuts – do you really think they’re going to eat stringy old Lucky?”.
That is the story of the brutal murder of Sandra Rivett and the alleged murderer who potentially got eaten by a tiger.
So what do you think happened to Lord Lucan? Tell us below in the comment section or find us on instagram or twitter.
Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Bingham,_7th_Earl_of_Lucan
The Guardian – https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/sep/27/lady-lucan-found-dead-at-london-home-after-being-reported-missing
The Telegraph – https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/12131172/Lord-Lucan-shot-himself-and-was-fed-to-a-tiger-in-zoo.html
The Times – https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/lady-lucan-s-death-lifts-hope-of-unlocking-sandra-rivett-murder-secrets-p5qxtxckd