Families furious as evidence in 1986 Lovers' Lane double murder lost by police

Two families haunted by the 35-year Lovers’ Lane murder mystery have suffered new heartache after police revealed they have lost key evidence.

Peter Thurgood and his lover Lindy Benstead were blasted at point-blank range. Both were shot in the head and Peter was also blasted in the chest.

But key pieces of evidence, including the shotgun cartridges and Lindy’s skirt, have gone missing – wrecking hopes of crucial DNA evidence.

Peter’s sons Terry and David were given the shattering news in a recorded video meeting with Sussex Police.

Furious Terry, 52, told the Sunday People: “The vital evidence that they need to be able to test DNA has been lost. It is beyond belief.

“It has totally ripped the family apart. The family has been in turmoil for years and been treated terribly.

“I got off that call with the police and I cried. All this time and we are still in all of this pain.

“And if something isn’t done soon, one of Britain’s oldest cold cases is going to continue to lie cold until all of the families are no longer here to fight for justice.

“It has completely devastated the family. Those shotgun cartridges could hold the key to everything – and they’re gone. It is unbelievable. The inquiry has been completely messed up.”

Divorced bricklayer Peter, 47, and mum-of-three Lindy, 49, were executed in the sleepy village of Rake, West Sussex, in April 1986. They lived in adjoining Hampshire villages close to the West Sussex border and their affair was common knowledge locally. They were killed in a secluded spot just off the A3.

Lindy’s husband Mick Benstead was questioned but had a clear alibi.

No one has been arrested since, which makes it the longest unsolved murder case to feature on the BBC’s Crimewatch.

A recording of the brothers’ meeting with police this month reveals how police lost the crucial evidence.

A senior detective told Terry and David: “Any case like this, a cold case review, the best chance of solving it is forensic evidence, or an admission – that’s it.

“We have still got stuff at the labs that is having some really complex work done and some quite innovative work trying to be done to try and lift DNA from fingerprints and stuff like that, so this isn’t the end of it as such, but what we don’t want to do is keep you holding on, because that could be quite a long time. There are still forensic inquiries going on.

“Not everything has been found yet and I would say that, sadly, this isn’t unique. We’ve got quite a few cases that date back to the ’80s where the chain of evidence in relation to exhibits is not what it would b

e now.

We haven’t located the shotgun cartridges. We haven’t got the physical cartridges any more so we can’t do any DNA work around them.

“I share your frustrations totally. The last we know is that they went up to the Metropolitan Police, now you can imagine the stations and labs they’ve got.

“Only last week, we found a whole box of exhibits from another job that was being decommissioned that we didn’t know were there. It does happen.

“I think there’s an item of Lindy’s clothing as well that we haven’t located, her skirt. That hasn’t been located. Clearly the cartridges, if we can find them, they may prove who did this.

“It is obviously very unusual for something like this to happen, in broad daylight, two victims, and for it not to be solved. And clearly they were very well known in the area, clearly their relationship was well known.”

Another detective was also in the virtual meeting. She travelled to America in 2018 with colleagues from Surrey to interview a new witness who claims to have known the killer.

Nothing forensically links the new suspect to the crime – but the missing evidence could be key.

The family first raised concerns about the probe in a newspaper article 34 years ago. Terry now claims one officer accidentally sent him an email intended for colleagues, after he sent in details of potential evidence.

It read: “Not sure what he expects me to do! I think I will just email him back saying noted.”

Terry says: “It’s yet another example of Sussex Police’s total incompetence.

“The investigation from the start has been bungled. I’d rather have Scooby-Doo investigating my dad’s murder.”

The killings have taken an emotional toll over the decades – forcing Terry to give up a high-profile job.

He adds: “Even today I constantly think about it, I never switch off. It’s been a complete rollercoaster, it’s not been an easy ride. If we don’t do something now, we might never get answers.”

Terry says his mum Maureen, 86 – who died last year after contracting Covid – never got over the murder.

“It was soul destroying for her. It has been for everyone,” he says.

Terry remains friends with Lindy’s son Keith, 53, who was also left shattered by the murders. Terry says: “This is not just one family that has been destroyed, but two. It’s about finding justice for everybody.”

On the day of the murders, Peter hired a silver Mazda and drove to the Old Thorns Golf Club, Liphook, where Lindy was a cleaner. They drove to the lane, north of Midhurst. A few hours later a salesman who stopped for a rest discovered Peter slumped by the side of the car with gunshot wounds to his head and chest.

Lindy was a few yards away – shot in the head. It is thought she made a desperate attempt to escape as the killer reloaded the double-barrelled shotgun. A haunting image shows the Mazda with its door and boot ajar. Detectives re-examined the murders in 2000 due to advances in DNA profiling and computer technology, but did not make any arrests.

Terry hoped further progress in DNA analysis would help solve the case – if the vital evidence was in place.

Sussex Police said there was no new evidence to corroborate allegations made by the witness in America.

In a statement, it admitted the force was “not currently able to locate three of the forensic exhibits found at the scene”, saying: “There is no record of the whereabouts of these specific items at present, although we retain detailed records and photographs.”Follow the Official Rokna NEWS Telegram Channel For More and fresh NEWS.


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