Date: 31 Mar 2001
Place: Royston, Essex
Stuart Lubbock was found dead in a swimming pool after having been sexually assaulted.
He had been at a party at the house of a famous celebrity in Royston, Essex, where he had taken drugs including Ecstasy and cocaine. He was also said to have been three times over the legal drink and drive limit.
It was said that before his death he had been seriously sexually assaulted and would have been in excruciating pain afterwards and have had trouble walking. It was noted that he might have been forcibly held down whilst the sexual assault took place. He was said to have had anal injuries and it was said that it was not thought that his injuries were the result of a consensual sexual act. The pathologist that carried out his post-mortem said that Stuart Lubbock had extensive internal bruising, lacerations and inflammation and that his injuries would have been caused within a few hours of his death. His comments at the time read ‘cause of death emersion subject to toxicology’ and ‘deceased has been buggered w/I [within] last few hours, obvious tearing visible’.
It was initially thought that Stuart Lubbock had drowned. It was also suggested that he might have died from asphyxiation or cardiac arrest occurring during the non-consensual sexual act, and serious sexual assault. One pathologist said that Stuart Lubbock had been alive when he had gone into the water and that the cocaine in his system might have caused him to inhale water but that he might not have been able to clear it. However, another pathologist said that he could not rule out the possibility that Stuart Lubbock had been already dead when he had entered the water. An independent pathologist said that when he examined Stuart Lubbock's body he could find none of the typical signs of drowning and concluded that his death was unascertained.
Later police findings stated that the police thought that his death by drowning had been staged.
When Stuart Lubbock was found floating in the pool he was pulled out and attempts were made to resuscitate him. At the inquest, the pathologist was asked if his internal injuries could have been caused whilst he was being resuscitated and the pathologist said 'No. Absolutely not.'.
Another pathologist said that he found small haemorrhages in Stuart Lubbock's facial blood vessels which indicated that he might have been squeezed around the neck at some stage and could have been caused during some form of erotic asphyxiation.
Stuart Lubbock had been a factory supervisor and had been married with two children but was divorced. He had met the famous celebrity at the Millennium nightclub in Harlow, Essex, on the night of 30 March 2001, the night he died, and had gone back to the famous celebrity's bungalow in Roydon afterwards at 2.35am with a group of other people. Stuart Lubbock had been at the Millennium nightclub with his brother where they met the famous celebrity who was with his friend. The famous celebrity then later invited Stuart Lubbock, and some other people, back to his bungalow. There were a total of nine people at the bungalow. They were:
It was reported that when the famous celebrity was dropped off at his home by a taxi that the driver had heard him say, 'I could do with a good f*** right now'.
Whilst at the bungalow, a witness said that several people stripped off and got into a Jacuzzi along with Stuart Lubbock who was then seen to get out and jump into the swimming pool, laughing and joking. He was then later found floating in it unconscious. However, the witnesses statement was later thought to have been possibly false.
The famous celebrity said that the last time that he saw Stuart Lubbock was when he was walking to the jacuzzi. He said that at the time he was thought to have received his injuries or gone into the pool he had left Stuart Lubbock at the jacuzzi with the other party guests whilst he and the two local men went to look at his new house extension.
The famous celebrity's partner said that he left Stuart Lubbock mucking about with a baseball cap around the pool.
The exact time that Stuart Lubbock was said to have been found was uncertain with some reports stating 5am and others stating between 4.30am and 5.45am.
It was later reported that a neighbour said that they heard a scream from the house at about 5am.
An ambulance was later called at 5.48am on 31 March 2001. The ambulance arrived at 5.56am and found Stuart Lubbock unconscious by the side of the pool. He was then taken to the Princess Alexander Hospital in Harlow where he was treated and later died at 8.23am. It was noted at the time by the ambulance crew that when they found Stuart Lubbock it was thought that he was already clinically dead.
It was noted that Girl 1 had said that she had seen the famous celebrity change his clothes, go through his drawers and then leave his house with a bundle of material in the time period after Stuart Lubbock was found in the pool and when the ambulance was called. She also said that she saw his partner rushing through the bungalow and got the impression that he was hiding something.
After the ambulance had arrived they called the police at 5.51am to notify them and some policemen arrived at the bungalow around 6am.
Later that afternoon the cause of death was given as immersion and it was noted that Stuart Lubbock had serious injuries to his anus.
It was noted that at the time the ambulance arrived that there was no immediate reason to suspect the possibility of murder and that his injuries looked like the results of drowning. This note was said to be significant because of later claims that the police had not sealed off the bungalow and its grounds properly as part of a murder crime scene. It was only later after Stuart Lubbock died and his post-mortem was carried out that his anal injuries were noticed, by which time the guests at the party had cleaned up and the famous celebrity had locked up the premises.
The famous celebrity, who was openly gay at the time, was a TV presenter and worked for a major company earning what was described as the highest salary of all TV presenters in the United Kingdom at the time.
After Stuart Lubbock was taken away the police gave the famous celebrity a caution for the possession of cannabis and for allowing his home to be used for the smoking of cannabis.
Stuart Lubbock's inquest took place on 10 September 2002 and on 13 September 2002 the jury returned an open verdict.
In November 2002 the famous celebrity demanded that the Essex Police re-investigate the matters surrounding Stuart Lubbock's death, claiming that he did not believe that his internal injuries could have been inflicted at his bungalow and said that he thought that they happened when he was at the mortuary. He claimed that after Stuart Lubbock's body was taken to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow at 8.20am there had been an eight-hour gap between him arriving and being examined and noted that the pathologist that had examined him at 4pm had said that Stuart Lubbock's internal injuries were four hours old. He claimed that there was a discrepancy there and the famous celebrity said that he wanted to prove that the anal injuries could not have happened at his house.
It was also noted that in 2006 the famous celebrity had given an interview to GQ magazine, a famous magazine, in which he had been asked whether he knew of anyone that was hiding secrets about Stuart Lubbock's death in which the famous celebrity had replied 'Yes. But I'm not going to say their names. I just hope they are brave enough to come forward one day.'.
It was also noted that in 2006 one of the other people at the party had given an interview to a reporter of the News Of The World which led the Essex Police to open an investigation regarding whether that person had committed perjury at the inquest.
In the 2007 IPCC report it was stated that some of the witnesses at the party had given conflicting accounts of what had happened. The report stated that the police thought that Stuart Lubbock died outside of the swimming pool and that he did not swim in the pool as was claimed by some of the people at the party and that his drowning was staged.
On 14 June 2007, the Essex Police arrested the famous celebrity and two other men on suspicion of the murder of Stuart Lubbock and serious sexual assault after it was found that tapes had been seized from the famous celebrity's literary agent that detailed conversations that the famous celebrity had had with other people. The famous celebrity was held for questioning and the police were given permission to hold him for another 12 hours and he was released the next day on bail. When the famous celebrity later answered bail on 31 July 2007 he was held again for questioning for 12 hours after which he was released and told that no charges would be made.
In a statement the Essex Police said, 'The judgement is clear that the officers leading the investigation into Stuart Lubbock's death had reasonable grounds to suspect that the famous celebrity had raped or murdered Mr Lubbock at his home address and had reasonable grounds for believing that it was necessary to arrest him.'. However, they also noted that the threshold for forming that suspicion was low and fell far short of that required to charge or convict a person.
It was also noted that in 2009, some items of evidence had gone missing from the crime scene, including a pool thermometer and a door handle which were thought might have been used to carry out the sexual assault on Stuart Lubbock. It was stated that the thermometer and the door handle were photographed at the scene but that they were not removed for examination.
Stuart Lubbock's father later complained that at the time Stuart Lubbock's body was found, the people at the party were not taken away from the house and that some of them were allowed to stay behind and tidy up resulting in certain items possibly not being found or forensically examined. He also noted that blood found on boxer shorts, towels and a robe was not promptly investigated and that the police investigation was suspended prematurely. He said that there were a catalogue of errors in the police investigation and that he was sure that if the police had done their job properly then he was sure that there would have been people charged.
The IPCC 2007 report stated that a policeman stood guard at the bungalow at 6.20am as the ambulance took Stuart Lubbock away and that afterwards they searched the grounds to see who was there and that during the course of the morning they took statements from everybody. It was noted that at the time the famous celebrity had gone to a flat nearby and had instructed a friend to tell all the people at the party to tell the police that he had not been at the bungalow that night or at the time Stuart Lubbock had been found unconscious, and as was alleged, in the swimming pool. However, the famous celebrity was soon found at a nearby flat where he had gone and brought back and questioned and it was noted that both he and his friend were still under the influence of alcohol.
The report also stated that the police had put everyone still at the bungalow into separate rooms for questioning and had informed the famous celebrity that Stuart Lubbock had died, shortly after he died at 8.23am.
It was also noted that people had been seen cleaning things up around the house at various times and were asked not to.
The report stated that at 9.45am a policeman arrived at the bungalow to take photos and that he took a photo of what was thought to have been a floating thermometer which consisted of a rod approximately four or five inches long and half an inch wide which protruded from a thick rounded rubber or plastic end that was about three inches in diameter. It was noted later that the item was not collected as evidence. The photographer also took a photo of some blood on the patio by the swimming pool. He said at the time that he remembered impressing on one of the men at the party not to touch anything.
Items taken as evidence included some clothing, wet shorts, two bloodstained towels, a towelling robe and a baseball cap that was found at the bottom of the pool. The police also took some suspected drug paraphernalia.
The report also noted that when the Deputy Chief Constable of Essex Police was called and informed about the situation at 9.55am that morning he had said 'this is a high-profile incident and that’s why I want the MIT (Major Investigation Team) involved'.
The house was sealed up at 12.20pm on 31 March, with a policeman on guard outside, but one of the guests returned at 12.30pm on behalf of the police to take the temperature of the pool, but didn't leave until 2.10pm, during which time he was in the property unaccompanied.
Later on 1 April 2001 the police went back to the scene and took other items including the glass that was in the photograph as well as the contents of the outside dustbin. Later that same day it was determined that the examination of the scene was complete, and the property was released back to a representative of the famous celebrity.
The 2007 IPCC report noted that the Murder Investigation Manual 2000 published by the National Crime Faculty and Association of Chief Police Officers, Crime Committee stated that, 'The initial information that an offence has been committed may be of a precise or imprecise nature' and that, 'where death or serious injury or where circumstances appear suspicious THINK MURDER, crime scenes are precious, opportunities to harvest evidence should not be wasted’ and further advised that ‘If in doubt investigate as a murder until the evidence proves otherwise'. The report looked into whether the policeman in charge at the scene of the crime that morning had done his job properly. It was heard that he said he did not think that the incident was suspicious and was never asked if it was suspicious. The report stated that things that should have been apparent to him included:
As such, the report concluded that the policeman in charge, an inspector, should have concluded that the situation was suspicious and that if he had done so and had followed the protocol as laid out by the Essex Police policy dealing with 'Homicides and all Unnatural Deaths’ and effectively preserved the scene it was possible that the door handle and thermometer, which were not collected might have been recovered by a policeman. The report concluded that the complaint against the policeman was upheld, stating that he had failed to carry out his duties conscientiously and diligently as required by paragraph 5 of the police Code of Conduct.
The 2007 IPCC report also noted that a complaint that the blood on the towels and scrapings from the side of the pool were not tested forensically were upheld. It was said that Stuart Lubbock's boxer shorts, a robe and two towels were taken in evidence along with scrapings from by the pool that were thought to have been blood and that semen was found on the boxer shorts and robe but only the semen on the robe was tested and was found to have not been Stuart Lubbock's, but that of another identified person. However, it was found that testing of the blood and semen on the boxer shorts was not carried out, and nor was testing on the blood of the two towels. The blood on the robe and two towels was not tested until 2007. The scrapings were also tested in 2007 and determined not to have been blood. It was noted that between 1 April 2001 and 30 August 2001, a total of 98 items were submitted to the FSS laboratory for various tests, most of which were completed successfully, with results obtained, including items such as hairs, fibres, sweepings, swabs, clothing, glasses, bottles, household items and tools, and as such it was concluded that it was probable that the police had asked for the boxer shorts, robe and towels to be examined but that they had not been done. It was also noted that some of the work had been designated as urgent and as such the report states that it was difficult to understand why the blood on the towels, robe, boxer shorts and scrapings from the patio were not profiled earlier. As such, the 2007 IPCC report upheld Stuart Lubbock's father’s complaint that the police had failed to analyse the items and as such constituted a failure by the Chief Superintendent to carry out his duties conscientiously and diligently as required by paragraph 5 of the police Code of Conduct.
A further complaint against the Essex Police was also upheld by the 2007 IPCC report regarding the decision to close the investigation into Stuart Lubbock's death prematurely. It was noted that the investigation into his death was suspended on 11 December 2001. The Chief Superintendent wrote in his policy book 'As a result of the medical experts’ meeting it would appear that there is no medical evidence available to us which establishes any causal link between any person and Stuart Lubbock’s death. It is therefore not in the public interest to continue to pursue an investigation into his death. A file will be prepared for the CPS to consider if the evidence available could support a charge against any person. HM Coroner has been briefed and wished the file to be submitted to the CPS before coming to her.'. The report noted that Chapter 12.2 of the Murder Investigation Manual 2000 stated: ‘Current situation reports (formally known as closing reports) should be completed in respect of investigations into all undetected offences of murder, attempted murder, stranger rapes and any other investigation into a serious offence for example abduction’ and that while the police were not investigating a clear offence of murder, it could not be completely discounted, nor could the possibility that Stuart Lubbock was the victim of a rape. When the Chief Superintendent was questioned he said that he thought that all lines of enquiry were closed and that there was no link between Stuart Lubbock's anal injuries and his death. However, the report stated that all lines of enquiry were not finished as there were still outstanding forensic results. The Chief Superintendent also said that he thought that it was no longer in the public interest to continue the investigation. The report concluded that it appeared that the Chief Superintendent had suspended the investigation mainly in the light of the medical evidence that stated that there was no link between Stuart Lubbock's anal injuries and his death. However, it further stated that there were three medical opinions, that he had drowned after consuming drink and drugs, that he might have asphyxiated or the third opinion that he might have suffered a heart attack resulting from his anal injuries. Again, it was found that the decision not to continue to pursue (suspend) the investigation into Stuart Lubbock’s death without taking into account outstanding enquiries and without recording a rationale for not completing these amounted to a failure by the Chief Superintendent to carry out his duties conscientiously and diligently as required by paragraph 5 of the police Code of Conduct.
The famous celebrity later sued the Essex Police for wrongful arrest in July 2015 and on 18 August 2017 the famous celebrity was told by the High Court in London that he was entitled to more than nominal damages for the wrongful arrest although no value for the claim was made by the judges, but it was noted that the famous celebrity had valued his claim at more that £2,400,000. He said that his career had been destroyed by the arrest. The police had said that the famous celebrity was only entitled to nominal compensation after it was determined that the policeman that had arrested him did not have reasonable enough grounds to suspect that the famous celebrity was guilty.
On 17 March 2021 a man was arrested in connection with Stuart Lubbock's murder and later released under investigation on 11 April 2021.