Eight years ago detectives pledged to do all in their power to bring to justice the killers of John Luper – they intend to keep that pledge.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Atkinson, from the homicide and major enquiry team, who is now heading the investigation, told the YEP, advances in scientific evidence gathering make that a real possibility.
Det Chief Insp Atkinson hopes criminals will come forward to help the investigation because of the nature of the “senseless murder”.
Mr Luper, 57, was attacked by a group of four or five men around 11.30pm on February 16, 2004 as he walked his dog. The robbers, who were wearing balaclavas, dragged him into his home in Sandmoor Drive, Alwoodley, Leeds, where he was stripped of his shirt, tied-up, and somehow suffocated.
His wife Iycian, 49, daughter Liza-Rose, 20, and their Turkish au pair, 24, were unaware of the full horror downstairs. They were threatened and bound with tape by the intruders who ransacked the master bedroom and escaped with £100,000 in cash and jewellery including a Cartier watch – one of only four in the UK.
When the men fled the women freed their bonds and discovered Mr Luper in the breakfast room. Paramedics could not revive him. The raiders had tried to feed the unconscious Mr Luper with marmalade, wrongly suspecting he was in a diabetic coma. Later medical tests proved he died from asphyxia and diabetes played no part.
Since then the full resources of West Yorkshire Police have focused on the hunt with the help of a £70,000 cash reward. Descriptions of the distinctive stolen jewellery including Cartier and Rolex watches were issued. A number of searches were carried out of properties near Liversedge including a small holding in Hightown where army equipment was used, a field dug-up and a stream searched. One man was arrested and questioned about the attack, but was later released.
An inquest ruled Mr Luper was unlawfully killed and died from asphyxia. One attacker was said to have told Mrs Luper they had had problems subduing Mr Luper, but there was no medical evidence he had resisted.
Mr Luper was a wealthy director of several firms, including the Leeds family tailoring firm Oaktrail Ltd, and Sports Entertainment and Media, dealing with the affairs of stars such as Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand. He was active in Masonic charities and a popular local man.
Det Chief Insp Atkinson, who took over the case after the retirement of Det Supt Bill Shackleton, said: “Since John Luper’s death there has been significant progress in forensic science and we are currently re-examining items seized from the crime scene itself and during other searches that were carried out as part of the investigation.
“The inquiry is very much ongoing and moving foward. Since the incident we have had some very useful information from the public, but I believe there are people with more to say. In those eight years allegiances will have changed and I appeal to the criminal fraternity to speak and help bring those responsible for this man’s death to justice. The attack was a planned robbery that needlessly took the life of a father, husband and brother and subjected three women to an horrific ordeal that they continue to come to terms with. Information is treated in strict confidence.” Call HMET on 01924 334606 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.