The Miner's Lamp Case

Published date01 October 1985
AuthorN. J. Finnerty
Date01 October 1985
Subject MatterArticle
Det. Ch. Supt. N. J. FINNERTY
Crimina/Investigation Department,
Lancashire Constabulary.
There stands in a show case in the Lancashire Constabulary
Museum a coal miner's brass safety lamp measuring some 9" in
height. Not a singularly significant item but one of immense
importance to a particularly intriguing murder case which had all
the classic hallmarks of a fictional thriller. A case also which
involved, by necessity, the working closely together of police forces
of England and North of the Border.
saw the introduction for
Lancashire Constabulary of the new major incident room
standardized administrative procedures. The circumstances high-
light value of constructive publicity as a resource for the
investigator. Many other facets of the murder investigation
processes were brought to bear, not least fingerprint evidence.
1984 the body of a 46 year old bachelor
supermarket owner, Eric Wandless Renton, was discovered in the
of his bungalow in the village of Charnock Richard near
Chorley, Lancashire. He had been stabbed to death. Early inquiry
ascertained that property including the miner's safety lamp was
missing from the house as was the deceased's Ford Sierra motor car
Amurder incident room was set up at Chorley Police Station and
widespread searches were instigated for the recovery of the red Ford
Sierra. On Thursday,
12, 1984, the vehicle was found
abandoned on the top floor of a multi-storey car park in
Dagenham, Essex. Clearly the investigation now took on another
dimension for it was not as localized as first considered. There was a
need to investigate in the Dagenham area and obviously to discover
by whom the car had been left in its parking place.
A witness had first noticed it on the car park as early as 7.45 a.m.
on Wednesday,
11, 1984, so it would seem that the vehicle
had been driven from the scene of the murder very shortly after the
crime had been committed.
was necessary to establish asatellite
incident room in the locality of the recovered vehicle, so the
Metropolitan Police quickly rendered assistance, allocated the top
floor of Barking Police Station and provided also the necessary
technical resources for the management of the inquiry. The incident
control room was set up, of all days, on Friday,
13, 1984.
The investigation team was accommodated in a motel on the
outskirts of Dagenham.
life-style of the victim Eric Wandless Renton did little to
simplify the operation. He was a known homosexual with a
propensity for picking up young male hitch-hikers 0]1 journeys
288 October /985

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