Unsolved Murders

Peter Thomas Maine

Age: 56

Sex: male

Date: 1 Sep 2013

Place: Maiden Castle, Durham City

Peter Maine was stabbed to death whilst out jogging in Durham City along the River Wear.

His body was found near to the Maiden Castle sports centre whilst significant blood drops were found about 40m away on a small foot bridge over the River Wear.

Whilst it was suspected that he had been stabbed to death by someone, at his inquest it was also considered that he might have stabbed himself three times, twice through the heart, and then disposed of the knife, and an open verdict was returned.

He had no defensive injuries.

He was a conveyancing solicitor and had just found out that he was going to be charged with fraud. It was said that he was well known in the estate agency world of North Durham.

The police said that they had developed three possible theories for his death:

  • He was the victim of a targetted hit.
  • He was a random victim of an attack.
  • He killed himself.

The police said that they had ruled out robbery as a motive for his murder, stating that when his body was found he still had on his Rolex watch and had his wallet and keys on him.

The forensic pathologist that carried out the post-mortem said that the three stab wounds to the chest were closely grouped, which would suggest that they had been self-inflicted. However, she added that because the weapon used to inflict the wounds was not found close by, she had doubt as to whether or not they were self-inflicted. She added that some people could continue to move about for up to 20 minutes with similar injuries and that he might not have immediately collapsed after being stabbed.

He had gone out jogging on the Sunday morning between 7.30am and 8.30am, 1 September 2013, having driven from Wynyard, up the A1M, and then parked his Range Rover Discovery car up in Old Elvet, Durham. The police said that they had managed to trace all but two of the people that had been seen walking or running in the area of the Wear between those times. They said that they were still looking to trace a young man and woman who had been camping near where Peter Maine had been found dead. It was thought that they had been collected by relatives from near the Maiden Castle car park at about the time that the ambulance arrived for Peter Maine. The police said, 'We would specially like to hear from any rowers, dog walkers, cyclists and runners who use this area frequently'.

Prior to going running, Peter Maine had visited his former offices on Old Elvet which he had since been turned into student housing. It was noted that he had talked a friend of 30-years a couple of hours later about the conversion of the Old Elvet into student accommodation and had said that he had been looking forward to getting it done for the influx of students in September.

From there he was seen in CCTV footage jogging from Old Elvet along the river, the last recording of which was at 7.42am. An ambulance was called for him at 8.01am by a cyclist that found him just before 8am.

He had been wearing blue tracksuit bottoms, trainers and a short-sleeved black running top.

He had been told two days before he died that he was to be charged with conspiracy to defraud in a case that involved other people after being investigated by the police and the Solicitors Regulation Authority following a complaint by a client. However, the police noted that none of the other people involved with the alleged fraud were being considered as suspects.

During their investigation the police drew up a list of 65 people who might have been in contact with him and who might have wanted to harm him.

Peter Maine had previously worked for Hall & Co LLP, in Easington Colliery, Peterlee, and had also been an assistant in Wallsend, North Tyneside. A notice on the Hall & Co LLP website read, 'With effect from the 30 September 2011 Hall & Co LLP ceased to trade as Solicitors. Our offices are now closed to the public. We would ask you not to approach us for any legal advice as we are prohibited by the Legal Services Act 2007 and professional regulations from providing advice after the 30th September 2011'.

He was said to have become involved with a dodgy company whilst working in County Durham. The Solicitors Regulation Authority said that Peter Maine had 'acted as a solicitor in relation to transactions concerning a company which he ought to have known were dubious and thereby acted in a way that was likely to compromise or impair his independence and/or his integrity and/or his good repute or that of the solicitor’s profession and/or his duty to act in the best interests of his clients'.

It was reported that the investigation involved mortgage fraud and that at the time it was described as the largest in the United Kingdom. The fraud was said to have involved a £170m sale and rent back scam that involved Gateshead firms, North East Property Buyers and Newcastle Home Loans.

However, a friend of his who knew that he was being investigated said, 'I know he was being investigated but there is a difference in being investigated and being found guilty. He would not knowingly do anything wrong'.

He had lived on a high-end gated estate were famous people lived, and himself lived in the £1 million home formerly lived in by a famous Middlesbrough footballer. It was also noted that the star of the television program Dragons Den, also lived on his estate.

Following his death, the Solicitors Regulation Authority said, 'There was a prosecution pending but that will now be discontinued as it is not in the public interest'.

The Durham police also confirmed that Peter Maine had been the subject of a Durham police investigation.

During their investigation the police spent £30,000 searching the river for the murder weapon, and found a total of six knives around the area where Peter Maine was stabbed, but said that none of the knives were thought to have been the weapon used, which they said they had yet to find.

Peter Maine had lived in Wynyard in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham and had two children. He had first joined the Law Society in 1981 and had specialised in civil litigation, commercial property, conveyancing, family law and personal injury.

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