Murder: Spen farm could hold key

John LUper
John LUper
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THE key to an eight-year old murder mystery could lie in the heart of Spen.

Businessman John Luper, 57, died following a robbery at his Leeds home on the night of February 16, 2004.

Forensic advances have led police to again appeal for anyone in Spen who may hold vital information to come forward.

Mr Luper was attacked while walking his dog and dragged back to his home, where his wife Iycian, 49, daughter Liza Rose, 20, and their au pair had been tied up with duct tape in another room.

The four or five masked robbers took jewellery and cash worth £100,000. After they fled the scene in the early hours of February 17, Mrs Luper, her daughter and the au pair broke free and found Mr Luper dead. A post-mortem examination ruled he suffocated.

Two months later police revealed they were focusing their inquiries on Liversedge and in December that year a dozen police vehicles, two diggers and an underwater search team swooped on the derelict Thornbush Farm in Miry Lane, along with army personnel using special equipment. Officers used a JCB to dig up parts of the field and an underwater team searched a stream. Nobody has ever been charged – but new forensic advances could finally help detectives solve the riddle.

Det Chief Insp Simon Atkinson, from West Yorkshire Police’s homicide and major enquiry team, said this week his team was determined to bring the killers to justice.

He said: “In the time that has passed since John Luper’s death there has been some significant progress in the field of forensic science and we are currently re-examining a number of items that were seized both from the crime scene itself as well as number of other searches that were carried out as part of the investigation.”

He said among the jewellery stolen was a rare Cartier watch, one of only four that were sold in the UK around the time.

police would like to hear from anyone who may have been offered one to buy around the time.

He added: “In the years since the incident we have had some very useful information from the public but I believe there are a number of people out there with more to say. Allegiances change and I would appeal to the criminal fraternity to come forward and help us bring those responsible for this man’s death before the courts.

“The attack on the Luper family was a targeted and planned robbery that needlessly took the life of a father, husband and brother, and subjected three women to a horrific ordeal that they continue to come to terms with.

“I would reassure anyone contacting the enquiry team that all information is treated in the strictest confidence.”

Anyone with information can contact the homicide and major enquiry team on 01924 334606 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.