In Depth

Stuart Lubbock: what happened to man found in Michael Barrymore’s swimming pool?

Police say mistakes were made by officers investigating the death at TV star’s Essex home in 2001

Essex Police have admitted that “crime scene mistakes” were made during the investigation into the suspected rape and murder of a man at Michael Barrymore’s home 19 years ago.

Stuart Lubbock, 31, was found dead in a swimming pool at the former TV presenter’s house in Roydon, Essex, following a party.

The police admission comes in a new Channel 4 documentary, Barrymore: The Body in the Pool, due to air on Thursday 6 February. Here is what we know.

How did Stuart Lubbock die?

Police were called to Barrymore’s house early on 31 March 2001 after Lubbock’s body was found in the pool.

The 90-minute new documentary opens with the 999 call reporting the incident. “A fella has drowned in the pool,” the caller says. “We have got him out. There’s a party going on and someone has just gone out and found him. I think the geezer’s dead, mate.”

A post-mortem found that Lubbock had ecstacy, cocaine and alcohol in his bloodstream - and that he had suffered severe internal injuries, which pathologists said were indicative of a serious sexual assault.

A 2002 inquest into his death recorded an open verdict. At the hearing, pathologist Professor Jack Crane said: “I do not rule out the possibility of asphyxiation or cardiac arrest occurring during some sort of non-consensual sexual act. Why would a fit, healthy young man drown in a swimming pool? There must be other factors involved.”

Was anyone ever charged?

No. In 2007, Barrymore and two other party guests were arrested on suspicion of murder and rape, but none of the trio were charged, reports The Telegraph. Barrymore’s arrest was later found to be unlawful, because the arresting officer did not have reasonable grounds to suspect him.

The TV presenter has always strenuously denied the allegations and sued Essex Police over his wrongful arrest, saying it had destroyed his career. However, the Court of Appeal concluded in December 2018 that he would be entitled to only “nominal” damages. The police investigation into Lubbock’s death remains open.

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What are police saying now?

Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings, from Essex Police’s Serious Crime Directorate, said: “We did make mistakes in terms of the crime scene. A lot of witnesses said it was a tragic accident so we believed them at that point.”

The scene was secured “but not to the standard we would expect”, and some items, including the pool thermometer, had gone missing, he told the Channel 4 team.

Jennings said he believes “someone that was there knows what happened”.

Speaking on the documentary, he claimed: “Stuart was assaulted quite possibly in the Jacuzzi and then either died in the Jacuzzi or went unconscious and then to make it look like a drowning, thrown in the swimming pool.

“I believe very much that Stuart Lubbock was raped and murdered that night.”

Barrymore has not commented on the upcoming documentary. In an ITV interview last year, he told Piers Morgan he “couldn’t be more sorry” for the death of Lubbock but was “100% innocent”.

Lubbock’s father, Terry, said Barrymore had helped him “enormously” and thanked the former presenter for keeping the story in the news. “All I live for is to see Stuart get justice,” he said.

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