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Lord Lucan: 4 alternative theories

A headless figure is wearing a suit

Richard John Bingham, the seventh Earl of Lucan, Baron Bingham, Baron Lucan, Baronet Bingham of Castlebar, Lucky Lucan. The man went by many names. The one you'll be most familiar with is Lord Lucan.

A now legendary figure, this aristocrat was at the centre of the most infamous missing person case in British criminal history. Lord Lucan was officially declared dead in 1999, with a death certificate finally being created in 2016.

One body that was found was that of 29-year-old nanny Sandra Rivett, who Lucan almost certainly murdered in the summer of 1975. Lucan’s wife, Lady Veronica Lucan, attests to that. Her husband nearly beat her to death in the same incident.

Before he could be tried, Lucan vanished without a trace. No one knows where he went. That’s not stopped people from debating his whereabouts for decades, though.

Here are four of the stranger, yet still oddly quite plausible, theories as to Lord Lucan’s disappearance.

1. Jungle Barry

Lucan went by many monikers, as we’ve seen. One other possible name that the man may have had was ‘Jungle Barry’.

How so? Well, Duncan MacLaughlin, a former Scotland Yard detective, came out and claimed back in 2003 that Lord Lucan had happily lived as a hippy in India up until his passing in 1996. He asserted that Lord Lucan had lived as a man called Barry Halpin, who also went by ‘Jungle Barry’.

In 1991, a picture emerged of a bearded and untidy-looking man, one with a remarkable resemblance to the lost hereditary peer. Halpin was subsequently revealed to be very real indeed. Although he was from St. Helens and well-known in the 1960s Merseyside folk music scene.

2. One last trip to the zoo

Part of Lucan’s social and gambling circle, former associate Philippe Marcq has an interesting theory on what happened to Richard Bingham. He ended up as a tiger’s lunch.

Marcq claims that, at the time, Lucan’s close friend John Aspinall revealed the big secret to him. In this version of events, a desperate Lucan decided to commit suicide and enlisted Aspinall to help him disappear.

Lucan’s friend was well positioned to help. The casino owner also established, owned and ran Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury, Kent. The story goes that Lord Lucan killed himself with a shotgun and John Aspinall fed his body to a hungry tiger to help dispose of any trace of him.

3. With friends like these…

Another out-there theory surrounding Lord Lucan’s disappearance suggests that his friends may not have been quite as willing to help him out.

Back in 2016, the popular crime fiction writer Peter James told a crowd at a literary festival his hypothesis. James claims that John Aspinall may have killed Lucan. Or at least ordered to have him killed.

This theory goes that Aspinall and some other friends helped stow Lucan away in Montreux, the swanky Lake Geneva-side town famous for its annual jazz festival. However, desperate to maintain a relationship with his children, Lucan kept trying to contact them. Thereby jeopardising his illegal abscondment and hideout.

According to James, this then presented Aspinal with a very real dilemma. Did they allow Lucan to be found and risk their part in his disappearance getting out? Or did they kill the man in hiding and secure their own evasion from police glare? Peter James suggests the men opted for the latter. Perhaps leaving Lucan at the bottom of the famous Swiss lake.

4. Totally Recalling the True Lies of a Termination

One of the most unbelievable theories claims that Lord Lucan was murdered by none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger.

According to convicted fraudster Giovanni Di Stefano, Arnie was living in Forest Green in London (a spot that was popular with the bodybuilding community) at the time of Lucan’s disappearance.

Trying to raise money to fly to America with a Green Card and launch a movie career, Arnie - apparently - worked as a gangland enforcer. The story claims Lucan hired the future Conan to kill his wife. However, Arnie allegedley hit the wrong woman over the head with a cast iron pipe and, to save himself, covered it all up by killing his employer too.