The family of murdered Leeds businessman John Luper have spoken for the first time of their anguish – eight years since his brutal murder.
For Toby Luper the final poignant memory of his brother echoing down eight years is his laughter as John left work after a joke about his “big fat cigar stinking out” their office just seven hours before his murder.
His killing “devastated our whole family – our mother, John’s wife and daughter, myself and my wife Hilary,” said Toby.
Their mother Olga had “died of a broken heart”, her death hastened by the loss of her beloved elder son, he said.
“Her life was devastated. She cried every day after his murder until she died on the Jewish anniversary of his death five years later. It’s not the order or the way things should be – burying your son. Our father Stanley had died only six months before John was murdered.”
John was a “larger than life character with a heart bigger than himself”, said Toby. Apart from business interests, he was a prominent member of the Jewish community through Shadwell Lane Synagogue and heavily involved in the Masonic movement and its national charities. Golf was his relaxation and he was a keen player and member of Moor Allerton Golf Club.
He recalled the ghastly moment his niece Liza-Rose telephoned at 1.45am on February 17, 2004 moments after she had alerted the police to tell him of the raid and the murder of her father – his brother.
“Naturally, she was utterly traumatised,” said Toby.
“We raced across from our home in Wakefield. But of course we could not get in, understandably it was already a ‘Police Crime Scene’ and was sealed off. We waited there till 6.30 in the morning and then I knew I had to go and tell our mother. I had to go to her because I knew the police would make an announcement for the morning news and I could not allow her to hear what had happened that way,” said Toby.
“The immediate impact on the family was one of shock and anger,” he said. They were desperate to learn what had happened that led to his brother’s untimely death. “I can remember exactly the times things happened. I can tell you every minute of that period.
“I am sure John would have resisted the attackers if he had had the opportunity. He was a very big man, he made me look like a midget. But if they were prepared to do what they did, then in my mind they came prepared to take him out. It was a planned operation. They had gone there with a purpose and were clearly intent on subduing him at least. I don’t know why they did it, I don’t know their motive.
“When this kind of thing happens it pervades your whole life. One walks around town and you don’t know whether you are being followed or who is watching your house. If such people watched my brother, they may be watching me going to work.
“John’s murder has left a void in our family life that can never be filled. The year he died my elder stepdaughter was to be married and, of course, he could not be there,” said Toby.
“You live with it all the time. How can you ever forget such a thing? But we are positive about the inquiry. We know that Det Chief Insp Simon Atkinson and police are doing everything they can as did Det Supt Bill Shackleton before to bring the culprits to book. I am sure at the end of the day those who did this will make a mistake. Everyday we read about cases where police get new evidence which they are able to translate into a successful prosecution and hopefully that will happen in this case.
“Please, I ask anyone with any information, no matter how small, to call the police now and stop this happening to another family.”