Britons Evelyn and Robert Lund met in 1994, and later moved to France to live. Evelyn Lund was the ‘wealthy’ widow of a property tycoon, Robert Lund was living in a caravan. On 1 January 2000, Lund reported his wife missing — with a story that she must have driven into the water after drinking with friends on 29 December. The two/three day gap between her ‘disappearance’ and his reporting her missing would have alerted even the most inexperience police officer of foul play.
Evelyn Lund’s body was found in her car 22 months after she went missing. The most damning evidence included lack of water in her lungs (indicating she had died prior to entering the water) and that the glasses she needed to drive were at the farmhouse.
Robert Lund was finally brought to trial in October 2007, and sentenced to 12 years for the murder of his wife. The primary motive for the murder seems to have been for financial gain.
The Independent on Sunday (16 Oct 2007)
Expat ‘murdered his wife to claim her life insurance’
By John Lichfield in Paris
Published: 16 October 2007
A British expatriate went on trial in France yesterday accused of murdering his wife and trying to make her death look like an accident.
Robert Lund, a former tree surgeon, denies killing his wife Evelyn, whose body was found in her car in a lake almost two years after he reported her missing.
When the couple met in 1994, she was the wealthy widow of a property tycoon and he lived in a caravan. Prosecutors claim the couple had a stormy relationship and Mr Lund, originally from Darwen, Lancashire, wanted to live off her life insurance money at their farmhouse near Albi, south-west France.
Mr Lund, 55, reported his 52-year-old wife missing on 1 January 2000 and led the hunt for her. More than 200 streams and lakes were searched but Mrs Lund’s body was not found until 22 months later, when drought caused the water level in Lake Bancalié to fall by 30ft.
Mr Lund insisted his wife must have driven into the water as she returned from drinking with friends on 29 December 1999. But police became suspicious when searches of the car and lake failed to locate the glasses Mrs Lund always wore while driving. She was also dressed in different clothes from those she wore to her friends’ house the day she vanished. Her outfit from that night was found at home and traces of blood were on her other clothes and in the car, it was alleged.
Maître Barthe, the examining magistrate, told the court that Mr Lund lied when he told police his wife did not come home after a row. He added: “When her body entered the water, she was no longer breathing – or breathing so little she did not inhale any water, which indicates she had already been smothered or knocked unconscious.”
The trial continues.
The Lancashire Constabulary (20 Oct 2007)
Guilty verdict for Robert Lund
FOLLOWING Friday’s sentencing of Robert Lund to 12 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of the involuntary homicide of his wife, Evelyn, Lancashire Constabulary made the following statement:
Lancashire Constabulary became involved in the investigation into the disappearance of Evelyn Lund in early 2000. Initially, detectives helped the French Gendarmes with enquiries in the UK where Evelyn’s immediate family live. At the request of the Gendarmes, and with the permission of the examining magistrate, Lancashire officers visited France in 2000 and 2001 and conducted interviews and searches with their French colleagues.
As suspicion began to fall on Robert Lund in relation to his wife’s disappearance, the investigation turned into a murder enquiry and the Constabulary considered asking the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute Robert Lund even though Evelyn’s body hadn’t been found at that time.
In September 2001, the Gendarmes and Lancashire Constabulary carried out a search of Mrs Lund’s home in France and interviewed a number of British ex-patriots living in the area. Shortly after the officers returned to Lancashire, Evelyn’s body was discovered inside her car which was submerged in a lake close to her home.
The Gendarmes, led by Major Jean Clude Van Batten under the direction of the examining magistrate, were now able to build a case against Robert Lund using some of the evidence obtained by Lancashire officers.
Detective Superintendent Steve Brunskill, who has been involved in the case since 2000, said: “Naturally, I am very pleased with the outcome of this case, particularly because of the close relationship we have built up over the years with Evelyn’s family and the Gendarmes.
“It has been an honour to work with the family and Major Batten and his team throughout this enquiry. To be with the family and Major Batten at court to finally witness justice for Evelyn has been a very satisfying and emotional experience. I hope now that Robert Lund will tell the truth and state exactly what happened that night between Evelyn and himself.”
An inquest into the death of Evelyn Lund has been opened and adjourned by Blackburn Coroner, Michael Singleton, pending the result of this case. DS Brunskill will liaise with the Coroner on his return to the UK.