The playboy hitman who tried to kill Jeremy Thorpe’s gay lover and troubling questions about the death of his girlfriend -who perished in mountaineering accident while climbing the Eiger with him in 1993
- Almost 25 years ago DI David Stone was asked to investigate an intriguing case
- Case of novice mountaineer plunged 900ft to her death climbing the Swiss Alps
- This week the hearing in Hammersmith drew public attention once more
- The man who remarkably escaped with minor injuries, Hann Redwin, was at the centre of the renewed focus on the Jeremy Thorpe affair
Poseur: Andrew Newton at fetish party in 2004
Standing on the doorstep of his retirement home in Poole, Dorset, immaculately turned out in his newly pressed blue-and-white check shirt, ex-detective inspector David Stone remembered the case.
‘I was a DI in Fulham at the time and I know Dr John Burton did the inquest,’ he said. ‘I put in a report asking for permission to go to Switzerland to follow it up but I didn’t get the authority to go.’
Almost 25 years ago DI Stone was asked by coroner Dr Burton to investigate how novice mountaineer Caroline Mayorcas, plunged 900ft to her death while climbing the Eiger in the Swiss Alps.
But for the identity of the man who was roped to the 45-year-old mother-of-three and survived the fall to the ground, the case would surely have receded from public view. The coroner, after all, said there was no evidence to suggest Mrs Mayorcas’s death had been anything but an accident.
This week, however, the hearing in Hammersmith was back in people’s minds because the man who remarkably escaped with minor injuries, Hann Redwin, was at the centre of the renewed focus on the Jeremy Thorpe affair, one of the greatest political scandals of the last century.
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Redwin is an alias — he used to be a former airline pilot called Andrew ‘Gino’ Newton who on the night of October 24, 1975, shot dead a Great Dane called Rinka belonging to one-time male model Norman Scott on Exmoor in Somerset.
Newton then turned the Mauser .25 pistol on Scott only for it to jam and then fled.
So began a series of extraordinary events that was to see Thorpe, the former leader of the Liberal Party, accused of hiring a hitman to murder Scott, with whom he had been lovers.
The extraordinary story of sex, power and corruption has been retold in the BBC drama A Very English Scandal, with Hugh Grant as the brilliant but flawed Thorpe.
Mystery: Caroline Mayorcas had little experience of climbing
Newton was jailed for possessing a pistol with intent to endanger human life, claiming at his trial that Norman Scott had tried to blackmail him over a photograph of himself posing naked — and he shot the dog to frighten Scott off.
But after his release a year later he dramatically changed his story and went to a newspaper with a very different account of that night on Exmoor.
He said he had lied at his trial and that Scott had never blackmailed him. And he declared that he had actually been paid £5,000 by senior Liberal Party supporters to kill Norman Scott, to silence him over the relationship with Jeremy Thorpe.
It was this allegation that led to Thorpe’s trial at the Old Bailey in 1979 on a charge of conspiracy to murder, with Newton appearing as the chief Crown witness.
Jeremy Thorpe arriving at the Old Bailey court where he was tried for incitement to murder
As we know, Thorpe was cleared after Newton was discredited and described by defence counsel as ‘a creature shaped by his own greed and deception’.
As for Scott, he too left the court with his reputation in tatters, after famously being eviscerated by the trial judge as a crook, liar, sponger, whiner and parasite. In the years since he has rebuilt his life and for more than 30 years has lived the genteel life of a country squire at his Grade 1 listed £1.3 million home in Throwleigh, near Chagford on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.
The thatched longhouse was bought for him in 1985 by benefactors who felt he had suffered unfairly at the hands of the Establishment — Scott himself told the World Of Interiors magazine two years ago that it had been provided for him by sympathisers, and they are believed to be neighbours who own land locally.
In the stables outside are horses and ponies — Scott, 78, still rides out on the moors most days — while in the yard hens and cockerels scratch at the ground. And his bucolic idyll might have continued uninterrupted had it not been for a farcical turn this week in the decades-old story, after police, who had assumed that Newton was dead, were forced to admit that he was very much alive — something a simple Google search could have told them.
Police had tried to speak to Newton to investigate conspiracy allegations that only emerged after Thorpe’s death in 2014.
Those allegations came from antique firearms expert Dennis Meighan, 71, who insisted the Establishment had covered up his own role in the affair.
Jeremy Thorpe, wife Mrs Marion Thorpe and their son Rupert Thorpe pictured here
Meighan claimed he had never been called to give evidence in the original Thorpe trial, even though he told police back in 1975 that he had turned down an offer of £13,500, equivalent to £140,000 today, from Newton and a ‘representative’ of Thorpe to silence Scott.
Those allegations led to a fresh police investigation, codenamed Operation Velum, by Gwent Police in 2016 — only for it to be dropped a year later after officers told prosecutors that Newton, the one person who could back up Meighan’s claims, was dead.
Yet only last Saturday, Newton was photographed in a blue shirt and jeans as he returned from a shopping trip.
But by the time the police had sent a plainclothes detective to the £500,000 home near Dorking, Surrey, where Newton was living with former medical centre nurse Patsy Frankham, 60, he had disappeared.
And then, 24 hours later, the investigation was abruptly closed with police saying that they had finally questioned Newton — but he had been unable to shed new light on the matter.
A highly amusing farce perhaps, but for the fact that those who were hurt over the death of Caroline Mayorcas on the Eiger in 1993 are now seeking answers about what they call ‘suspicious’ circumstances.
The Jeremy Thorpe case, one of Britain’s most notorious political scandals, could be reopened
Caroline’s daughter Miranda, who was 18 when her mother died, said she remained ‘convinced’ that there was more to the death than was revealed at the time.
Before police announced they had found and spoken to Newton, she told the Mail: ‘If he’s gone missing what else is he running from? He’s still being protected by Government and that’s why my mum’s inquest was hushed down as they didn’t want him to come to light then.’
She goes further, suggesting that the death of her mother happened so suddenly, dramatically and — to her mind — mysteriously that the inquest should be reopened.
Back in 1993, DI Stone was called in by the coroner after the inquest learned that the rope connecting Mrs Mayorcas and Newton had been cut. Police were told by Swiss investigators that the rope was cut by a doctor after the fall.
Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe’s gay lover Norman Scott is pictured arriving in court in 1979
Following the terrible accident, Newton discharged himself from hospital and came back to Britain with slight concussion. Six days later he wrote his dead lover’s parents Basil and Pamela an extraordinary letter.
Tapped out on a word processor, the note was delivered by hand in the early hours to their house in Kew, South-West London. In it, Newton declared: ‘I feel more grief inside me than I have ever experienced in my whole life. I too loved your daughter, my misfortune was to have survived. I would have gladly taken her place, or be with her now.
‘Caroline made a choice. It was to be by my side. The Greek tragedy, and poetry, was that we were forced apart, still tied and roped together.
‘We shared the bond of flowers, the countryside and open air. Nobody was coerced. We did what we did with our eyes open and for each other.’
The letter gave Caroline’s bereaved parents’ little comfort and no information about what exactly happened on that fateful morning. And Andrew Newton never visited Pamela and Basil after their daughter’s death — although against their wishes he attended Caroline’s funeral at Mortlake crematorium, keeping a discreet distance from the family mourners.
But what led sensible, respectable, middle-aged Caroline Mayorcas into the arms of the raffish Thorpe-case hitman? After the Thorpe trial, he had returned to live in Chiswick, the suburb where he was brought up. By then he was calling himself Redwin and listing his occupation as ‘pilot’.
He and Caroline met at the Hogarth Club, a smart fitness centre in Chiswick where she worked as a slimming adviser.
Norman Scott, pictured in his Devon home, said he is outraged that Andrew Newton and Denis Meighan have never had to face justice despite publicly admitting their roles in the plot to kill him
At the time she was in the middle of divorcing her husband of 18 years, a Jermyn Street antique dealer. Caroline was enthralled by smooth-talking Redwin —though she must have known some of his secrets.
Why else would she insist her three daughters, twins Miranda and Claire and Alice five years younger, refer to him only as Hogarth? And staff at the health club would hear Caroline referring fondly to her lover as ‘my little villain’.
At the time of their mother’s inquest, the twins said their mother was besotted. ‘He was the opposite of Dad,’ said Miranda. ‘He was athletic and unreliable. He wanted to go out a lot. Dad just wanted to stay at home every night.’
Redwin had a reputation for pursuing women of a certain type: older, affluent, energetic.
Ben Whishaw, pictured centre, playing Norman Scott in A Very English Affair
He was said to: ‘Zero in on them like a guided missile. He specialised in sweeping women off their feet.’
On August 18, 1993 he and Caroline set off for Switzerland in her car, having announced they were going on a climbing holiday. She told a friend she didn’t have any climbing experience, but had been practising.
‘Practising’ turned out to mean walking round Chiswick in her new climbing boots.
She also told a friend she was withdrawing £6,000 from her bank to pay for the trip — although after her death, her bank statement revealed that she had only drawn out £3,000. The official Swiss report into the accident revealed that the couple were urged not to tackle the dangerous West face of the Eiger. But Redwin took no notice and with ice axes and crampons they had climbed to 10,000ft when Mrs Mayorcas complained of being tired and they had turned to go down.
It was on the descent that the accident happened — Redwin lost his footing, tugging Caroline behind him. She was not wearing a helmet. She suffered massive head injuries and never regained consciousness. He was concussed but was soon out of hospital.
At the inquest, he said: ‘The problem is I survived.
‘If I had died, everyone would have said how romantic it was, that we were a couple of lovers dying in each other’s arms, roped together.’
Andrew Newton was suspected of trying to kill Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe’s (pictured) gay ex-lover Norman Scott more than four decades ago
But for Redwin/Newton life went on. Another independent woman was said to have become close to him. She was Rosalieve Lowsley, a twice-divorced company director. But the relationship did not last.
Earlier this week in Dorking, Mrs Frankham, meanwhile, claimed that she had not heard from ‘Hann’ since he crept out of her house in the middle of the night at the weekend.
Asked where she thought he was, she replied cryptically: ‘He’s probably the other side of Paris by now . . . but I don’t know anything.’
Nor has Newton quite forgotten his flying days. Until May 2016 he kept a Pipistrel Sinus, a motorised glider at Redhill aerodrome in Surrey. The Italian-registered light aircraft, which cost £65,000, left the aerodrome on a trailer.
Asked if he had flown out of the country, an insider at Redhill said: ‘Anything is possible with that guy. He is truly one of life’s characters.’
A character, it seems, who also loves dancing. Earlier this week the Sky News presenter Kay Burley revealed that she’d danced the Ceroc, a jive and salsa combination, with him.
Andrew Newton (left in 1976) is suspected of trying to kill Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe’s gay ex-lover. In 2004 – the year police said he died – he was photographed wearing a thong, top hat and tails (right), at the Skin Two Rubber Ball fetish convention
Another devotee said Newton had been dancing at the Casbah club in South Kensington only a month ago.
Dr Graham Blockley, who worked with Mrs Frankham for 25 years, remembers that she and Newton were both ‘very good dancers’.
He added: ‘She mentioned that she had been in his plane on holiday and I think they had a boat share for a while. They had some exciting times together.’
If he was hiding from police it was a case of hiding in plain sight. Details of his flying activities are available online, and in 2004 — the year police first believed he died — he was photographed, looking very much alive, in a thong, top hat and tails, at the Skin Two Rubber Ball fetish convention at West London’s Hammersmith Palais.
Back in Poole, ex-detective Stone recalled of the mountain tragedy: ‘We do have jurisdiction over a death abroad of a British citizen, so if they do reopen it I’m sure they’ll come to ask me what I remember.’
Judging by what has happened to Andrew Newton over the past 44 years, that should perhaps not be ruled out.
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