'At least two' out of eight guests at Barrymore pool party were responsible for Stuart Lubbock's death, claim police as they reveal crucial evidence - including pool thermometer that could have been used in assault - vanished from scene

  • Stuart Lubbock died at Michael Barrymore's £2m mansion in Essex in 2001
  • Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings said it was 'likely' multiple people involved
  • DCI Jennings said eight people, including Barrymore, remain under suspicion 
  • Essex Police are now offering a £20,000 reward for new information in the case

At least two people were involved in the rape and murder of a guest at Michael Barrymore's mansion, the police chief leading a new investigation has said.

Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings said that given the severity of Stuart Lubbock's injuries it was 'likely' more than one person had been complicit.

All eight people at the party held at the former TV star's home remain under suspicion – including Barrymore himself, DCI Jennings added.

The new appeal will focus on the possibility that the murder was 'covered up', after a hot tub thermometer and a broken shed handle both went missing from the scene.

Mr Lubbock, who was found floating in the pool, had severe injuries consistent with rape, which officers believe could have been inflicted with either missing object.

Speaking at yesterday's police press conference, Mr Lubbock's father said he was convinced Barrymore knows more about the incident than he has revealed.

Shortly after the appeal was launched, Barrymore broke his silence by 'liking' several Instagram comments describing his critics as 'parasites'. 

Michael Barrymore, one of ITV's biggest stars with a string of hit shows, is pictured in 2017
Stuart Lubbock

Michael Barrymore, one of ITV's biggest stars with a string of hit shows, is pictured in 2017. Stuart Lubbock (right) died at his home in 2001

Police believe Mr Lubbock was sexually assaulted and murdered with his body possibly moved from a jacuzzi to make it look like he had accidentally drowned

Police believe Mr Lubbock was sexually assaulted and murdered with his body possibly moved from a jacuzzi to make it look like he had accidentally drowned 

A photograph taken by police near the pool shows blood on a towel that was later proved to belong to Mr Lubbock

A photograph taken by police near the pool shows blood on a towel that was later proved to belong to Mr Lubbock

Barrymore also replied to one comment, saying: 'Thank you very much x' to a female fan after she said: 'You're a legend'.

DCI Jennings called on all the eight people present to come forward with any new information, adding that '19 years is a long time' and 'loyalties change'.

He said: 'Nine people went to the party at Michael Barrymore's house, but only one of them – Stuart- ended up being violently sexually assaulted and murdered. 

'We know not everyone at the party was responsible for what happened, but someone was. 

'We also know that not everyone at that party may know what happened, but someone does. 

'We want the people who do have information to come forward and talk to us – 19 years is a long time, loyalties change and it is never too late to do the right thing. 

'Some people also arrived at the scene in the hours after Stuart's death. They may also hold key information and we would like to hear from them.' 

Police revealed they are offering a £20,000 reward in conjunction with Crimestoppers for information leading to arrests.

DCI Jennings added: 'I can't rule out an individual but on the balance of probabilities from the level of intelligence we've got, it's more likely that more than one person was involved.

'I believe that he was raped and murdered that night. One or more of those party-goers are responsible for that serious sexual assault.' 

The other seven guests present on the night that Mr Lubbock died 

Jonathan Kenney

Kenney, from Blackpool in Lancashire, was Barrymore's boyfriend at the time of Mr Lubbock's death.

He was formerly a drag queen but more recently had been working as a driving test examiner.

Kenney, along with Barrymore, invited the other seven guests over to the house after they partied together at the Millennium nightclub in Harlow, Essex.

He was one of three people arrested on suspicion of murder by Essex Police in 2007 before he was later released without charge.

 

Justin Merritt

Former dustman Justin was unemployed when he went back to Barrymore's house along with his sister Kylie.

Reports from the time claimed Justin was an 'unofficial minder' to the TV star during that night.

He had walked up to Barrymore outside the nightclub earlier and said: 'I'll look after you. I'll be your security to get you home.'

Mr Merritt claimed to have shared a Jacuzzi with Mr Lubbock and last saw him alive 'bombing' in the pool and in high spirits.

He, along with Barrymore and Kenney, were arrested on suspicion of murder before ultimately being released. 

 

Kylie Merritt 

Kylie was Justin's sister and had been present with him in the nightclub when Justin had offered to be Barrymore's minder on the night.

The siblings, along with Barrymore and Mr Lubbock shared a taxi back to the house.

Miss Merritt would later claim that she had then seen Mr Lubbock 'larking about' by himself in the swimming pool.

On another occasion, she said she saw Barrymore with two men in a small room near his bedroom door.

She would also claim that Barrymore had produced cocaine on the night and had tried to rub the drug into My Lubbock's gums, something he denied.

Ms Merritt infamously took a lie detector test for the News of the World, which suggested she was not being truthful when questioned about what happened that day.

 

James Futers

Mr Futers was a chef who lived near Barrymore in Roydon, Essex.

He would tell a court how the TV star offered him 'white powder' shortly after he arrived at the house for the party.

Later he would add that he believed the drug to be cocaine. 

Mr Futers had met Barrymore on several previous occasions to have a drink and 'play cards'.

He had been at the nightclub with Barrymore that night and had agreed to go back to his house for an 'impromptu' gathering.

 

Simon Shaw

Mr Shaw had been invited to the party due to his friendship with Barrymore's neighbour Mr Futers.

During court testimony, he recounted how he spotted Mr Lubbock in the pool and jumped in to help him.

He said he tried to pull him up from the bottom of the pool but found him to heavy, returning for breath before going back and successfully lifting him out.

Mr Shaw then left the home with Mr Futers as he thought 'what happened was a bit scary', and was joined by Barrymore.

They all went back to Mr Shaw's house, where they spoke about what had occurred while Barrymore made phone calls to his 'PR man'.

 

Claire Jones and Kelly Campbell 

Ms Jones, a 17-year-old cashier at the time, and her friend Kelly Campbell had only met Barrymore hours earlier at the nightclub when they were invited back for the party.

She would later tell police how she saw Barrymore rummaging through drawers and changing his clothes before police arrived.

Ms Jones also told police that when Barrymore left the house he had a 'bundle of material' under his arm.

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The body of Mr Lubbock, 31, was found in the pool of Barrymore's £2million home in Roydon, Essex, on March 31, 2001.

Other than Mr Lubbock, the other people present on the night were Barrymore, his ex Jonathan Kenney, Justin Merritt and his sister Kylie, Claire Jones and Kelly Campbell and Simon Shaw and James Futers.

Barrymore, one of ITV's biggest stars with a string of hit shows including Strike It Lucky, fled from the house before police arrived.

A post-mortem examination revealed Mr Lubbock, a divorced father-of-two from Harlow, had suffered major internal injuries consistent with rape.

The cause of death was never established and an open verdict was recorded after conflicting reports from pathologists. Cocaine, ecstasy and alcohol were found in his system.

Barrymore was arrested on suspicion of rape and serious sexual assault in 2007, along with two other people. No charges were brought due to lack of evidence.

Barrymore, now 67, – who has always denied any involvement in the death – launched a high court case for £2.4million damages for wrongful arrest. He received a nominal sum after Essex Police won an appeal.

A police photograph taken in the days after the pool party shows where Mr Lubbock was said to have been pulled out of the water by guests

A police photograph taken in the days after the pool party shows where Mr Lubbock was said to have been pulled out of the water by guests

Another image from Barrymore's house shows glasses stacked up in the kitchen sink

Another image from Barrymore's house shows glasses stacked up in the kitchen sink

The Channel 4 Documentary has exclusive photographs from inside Barrymore's house

The Channel 4 Documentary has exclusive photographs from inside Barrymore's house 

Mr Lubbock's father Terry, 74, called for the TV presenter to 'clear your name' or 'put your hands up'.

He said: 'I think it's time he comes clean,' he said. 'It's time now Michael. I think you know more about this than you have said and the focus will be on you.

'You must know, I’m absolutely sure, I know you are involved in this. 

There were reports about him not being there at that particularly time and he has insisted that he doesn’t know. I’m absolutely sure he knows 100 per cent.

'It's time now for you to either clear your name or put your hands up to what happened because you must know.

'I think the people who were there in Michael Barrymore's home on that day, on that night, are thinking it hasn't gone away, it won't go away.

'Even the people who aren't directly involved in this must be starting to feel very, very uneasy and it's time now for them.

Terry Lubbock, the father of Stuart Lubbock who was found dead in Michael Barrymrore's swimming pool, speaking at Essex Police HQ in Chelmsford, ahead of a new Channel 4 documentary about the death of his son

Terry Lubbock, the father of Stuart Lubbock who was found dead in Michael Barrymrore's swimming pool, speaking at Essex Police HQ in Chelmsford, ahead of a new Channel 4 documentary about the death of his son

DCI Stephen Jennings from Essex Police speaks at the force's headquarters in Chelmsford yesterday, ahead of the new Channel 4 documentary about the death of Stuart Lubbock

DCI Stephen Jennings from Essex Police speaks at the force's headquarters in Chelmsford yesterday, ahead of the new Channel 4 documentary about the death of Stuart Lubbock

'The penny's dropped now, it's time for people to come forward whether they are directly involved or indirectly involved. Any bit of information they have got, they must come forward with that.'

He called for a fresh post-mortem and inquest for his son, while Mr Jennings said Stuart's injuries were too severe to have been consensual or self-inflicted, and suggested he may have been held down.

The comments come ahead of a new programme which charts the police's investigation into the death, as well as the attempts by entertainer Barrymore to restore his public image following the incident.

The documentary tells the story of the death through interviews with journalists, forensics experts and people who knew Stuart.

At the beginning of the 90-minute programme, the 999 call reporting the incident to police is played.

Michael Barrymore in December last year after he was forced to pull out of ITV's Dancing on Ice following a wrist injury
Barrymore

Michael Barrymore in December last year after he was forced to pull out of ITV's Dancing on Ice following a wrist injury

Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings (pictured) said that given the severity of Stuart Lubbock's injuries it was 'likely' more than one person had been complicit

Detective Chief Inspector Stephen Jennings (pictured) said that given the severity of Stuart Lubbock's injuries it was 'likely' more than one person had been complicit

The caller said: 'A fella has drowned in the pool. 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.'

Last year Barrymore spoke about the death, telling Piers Morgan's ITV show Life Stories that he 'couldn't be more sorry' for his behaviour that night, and that he is '100% innocent'.

He was arrested in 2007 but never charged with any offence.

He sued Essex Police and claimed it was a wrongful arrest that had cost him about £2.5 million in lost earnings, but Court of Appeal judges concluded he would be entitled to only 'nominal' damages.

Barrymore: The Body In The Pool will be broadcast on Channel 4 on Thursday. 

The timeline of events following Stuart Lubbock's death

MARCH 31, 2001: Stuart Lubbock is found floating in a pool at Barrymore's then home in Roydon, Essex.

APRIL 2001: A post-mortem examination concludes the cause of death was drowning. Pathologists tell a hearing in Epping that traces of cocaine, ecstasy and alcohol were found in Mr Lubbock's system.

JUNE 2001: Barrymore is quizzed a number of times during the course of the criminal investigation and spends a night in police custody in June after being arrested on drugs allegations arising from the inquiry.

SEPTEMBER 13, 2002: The coroner recorded an open verdict on the death Mr Lubbock.

NOVEMBER 2002: Barrymore's lawyers successfully demanded that Essex Police re-investigate matters surrounding Mr Lubbock's death.

JANUARY 2006: Barrymore makes a high-profile return to the UK in January 2006 to take part in Celebrity Big Brother.

DECEMBER 2006: Police announce they will reopen the investigation after Barrymore claims there were other witnesses to the events of the night.

JUNE 14, 2007: Barrymore, his ex-partner Jonathan Kenney and Justin Merritt are arrested on suspicion of serious sexual assault and murder.

JULY 31, 2007: It is announced that Barrymore had been re-bailed to appear at an Essex Police station on September 10.

SEPTEMBER 10, 2007: Barrymore answers bail and police are granted a further 12 hours to question him. Barrymore and the two other men are later released without charge.

JULY 2015: It is revealed Barrymore is suing Essex police because his arrest in 2007 'damaged his career'.

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Police probing 'murder' of man in Michael Barrymore's swimming pool believe TWO people were involved

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