30th April 1979

Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port

The theft of a boat from St Peter Port alerted authorities to a pair of potential murderers.

The 42ft luxury yacht, called Memel, had been moored in Guernsey by its German owner, who was holidaying on the island. Nobody saw who had taken it, but a white Citroen car was abandoned close to the site of the theft.

The car had been seen leaving the scene of a murder in Surrey the previous week. It was then spotted on the ferry from Weymouth.

Murder suspects

The chief suspects were antique-dealing brothers, Jason and Nicholas Richards, both in their early 20s. The victim, Thames Water engineer John George, had been tied up and shot in woodland near Dunsfold. The suspects were also being sought in connection with two armed raids on restaurants using a .22 rifle and a sub-machine gun.

Interpol, the navy and French coastguard were all called in to help with the search for the £60,000 boat, which had sufficient fuel onboard to sail 600 miles.

That wasn’t enough to get them as far as their parents’ house in Minorca, but Surrey police nonetheless travelled to the island to interview them.

Interception, arrest and trial

The brothers’ escape didn’t last long. They ran into trouble on a sandbank off the coast of Brittany and were arrested by three lorry-loads of French police.

The Foreign Office immediately put in an application for their extradition to the UK. Magistrates at Guildford approved the warrant 10 days later, but it still took until 22 August for them to be flown back to Britain.

When the trial reached court, the brothers pleaded not guilty. They claimed they’d gone for a walk and returned to their car to find some of their clothes missing. They hadn’t reported the theft to police because their illegal firearms were still in the vehicle. When they repacked their car, they noticed that the barrels of the weapons had been sawn off. At that point they decided to leave the country, taking the weapons with them.

They claimed to have first heard about John George’s death on the stolen yacht’s radio.

Ultimately the brothers turned against each other in court, and their claims of innocence were unsuccessful. They were jailed for life on 8 May 1980.


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Other events that occured in April

Guernsey’s first female murderer goes on trial 1st
A French fisherman is arrested and escorted to St Peter Port 2nd
Guernsey’s new population law comes into force 3rd
Guernsey’s oldest resident dies, aged 110 4th
An occupation-era minefield is discovered at L’Ancresse 5th
Birth of Stone de Croze, the original Guernseyman 6th
The first ever Guernsey stamp is issued 7th
Antiquarian William Collings Lukis was born 8th
Guernsey hosts its first Parkrun at Pembroke 9th
Alderney residents lined the coast to watch Titanic pass 10th
Norfolk pupils spend a week in Guernsey 11th
A plane hit a car while landing at Guernsey Airport 12th
Battery Mirus was test fired for the first time 13th
Royal Guernsey Light Infantry fights at Ypres 14th
Guernsey Mormon Sampson Avard dies in Illinois 15th
Lieutenant Governor, Lord Ruthven, died in Bath 16th
Death of the Vicar General of the Channel Islands 17th
TV’s Jeeves is rushed to hospital on Guernsey 18th
Guernsey Airport’s new terminal opened for business 19th
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie film opened 20th
Death of Guernsey-born footballer Len Duquemin
Three Jewish women are deported from Guernsey 21st
Guernsey bigamist got married for the second time 22nd
Aurigny pilot Ray Bowyer spots a UFO near Alderney 23rd
The States of Guernsey registers the gov.gg domain 24th
Guernsey-set film The Sea Devils hits cinemas 25th
Hydrofoil Condor 1 completed its final sea trials 26th
The first Muratti football match takes place 27th
Guernsey passengers stage a ferry sit-in 28th
Guernsey abolishes the death penalty for murder 29th
Finishing touches put to new hospital 30th
Murder suspects steal visitor’s boat from St Peter Port