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JANICE WESTON: NEW EVIDENCE IN 1983 UNSOLVED MURDER CASE. By Caroline Bayford and Tiina Paivarinta
2012-06-21
JANICE WESTON: NEW EVIDENCE IN 1983 UNSOLVED MURDER CASE. By Caroline Bayford and Tiina Paivarinta
Janice Weston came into affluence from the day she was born. She attended Manchester University. From there, she went to work as a lawyer with London, England's acclaimed Herbert Oppenheimer, Nathan & Vandyke firm. There she met both her lovers: her future husband, Tony Weston, a property developer, a year her senior, and Heinz Isner, 40 years her senior, chairman of the Mettoy Company that manufactured children's Corgi toy cars. Janice was Mettoy's legal advisor. (It must be noted when Janice first met Tony Weston, he was married with two children.)
 In 1975, Isner's wife died. He soon took up with Janice, inviting her to the theatre, ballet and his Chelsea flat. Apparently he had even proposed to her, but Janice declined. They continued to see each other until Isner died in July 1977. Through his will she received paintings, furniture, shares and money totalling £140,000. Five years later, in 1982, she married Tony Weston, at age 35 (by this time, he was divorced). They bought a country mansion in Northamptonshire, which they converted into apartments, taking one for them. Thirty-nine days after her wedding, she made out her will. Her estate was valued at £300,000. £100,000 was to go to her sister; £10,000 to her mother, the income of the rest was to go to Tony. The capital after her death was to be shared between her two stepchildren and her nieces and nephews. On the weekend she died, 10th/11th September 1983, Tony was away on business in France. Janice was at home, working. At 5pm on Saturday, the 10th, a colleague noticed her at the office. She was still there when he left a short while later. Sometime in the evening, she returned to her flat where she had a snack. Uncharacteristically, she didn't clean up after the meal. When she left -- which seemed to be in a hurry -- she didn't take her purse, but did take her wallet containing £37. A meal half eaten was also left on the table. The weather was not pleasant that night and, again, it is not known why she went out or where she was going. Her body was discovered Sunday, September 11th at 9am by a cyclist. She had been thrown into a ditch along the A1. The body was badly beaten, especially on the back of the head. It was later determined she had been killed by a car jack found in a nearby field. When the workaholic Janice failed to appear at work on Monday, colleagues called her sister who contacted police. It was she who identified the body as Janice Weston. Tony returned from France later that same day. Within 24 hours, a policeman spotted Janice's car, an Alfa Romeo, parked in Camden Square, London, three miles from her apartment. The interior was smeared with blood, but contained no fingerprints.
An owner of a car-spares shop in Royston, Hertfordshire, called police with the news that he had bought spare car plates from a man 25-35 years of age. The plates belonged to Janice Weston. However, no one has ever found the man. The morning she died, Janice had picked up a spare tyre that had just been repaired. Before leaving for France, Tony had had a puncture. The newly repaired tyre went into the boot of Janice's car; the old spare was on her rear wheel. When police found the car, the newly repaired tyre was back on the car and the spare was missing. Six witnesses had seen a man changing her tyre the night she died.
 
Tony was held and questioned in December 1983. After 55 hours of police questioning his lawyers went to the High Court where they obtained an order for his release. He was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, although a file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecution who decided there was insufficient evidence to raise charges. He never returned to live at Clopton Manor, the Northampton retreat that he and Janice were rebuilding as their country home. He also gave up all his interests in the French Chateau he was negotiating to buy for £175,000. A hotel clerk working in a Paris hotel confirmed that Tony Weston was at the hotel the very night Janice was murdered. The strange factor however, was that he was not interviewed by Cambridgeshire Police until some ten days later. Ashok, the clerk at the Hotel d’Isly, specifically recalled Tony Weston picking up his room key because of an altercation at reception. It appears that the previous day, September 9th 1983, Tony Weston had shown an English couple around the chateau although, for what reason, has never been established. Was he trying to ensure a perfect alibi?
The couple have been traced by Online Publishing Company and stated: “It was all so long ago but he seemed in good spirits and showed us around the house and then left at about 7pm for Paris on business.”
Cambridgeshire Police ultimately attended the French capital but they were only able to confirm that Tony Weston paid for three nights’ accommodation at the hotel from Friday to Sunday and that he used his credit card in Paris at 2.15pm on Saturday and another transaction on Sunday evening. It would appear that Tony Weston left Paris on Monday, September 12th 1983, and again visited the chateau on Tuesday, 13th September. The police found him there and requested his urgent return to the United Kingdom. By that time, they had identified the body of Janice Weston.
Isner's step-granddaughter was also questioned, but she had an alibi that checked out. An inquest was held in April 1984 which resulted in an unlawful killing verdict. The murderer of lawyer Janice Weston has never been identified or apprehended.
It’s now 27 years on and no one has really taken the matter further.
 
 A breakthrough came when Giovanni Di Stefano nicknamed the ‘Devil’s Advocate’ in 2007 wrote on his law firm’s blog the following request: “If anyone knows anything, remembers the incident, was one of the witnesses that saw a man change her tyre, was the man that changed her tyre, or knows anything no matter how remote, knows Tony Weston or his whereabouts now: please call or e mail me.”On the 9th February 2010 some three years later Di Stefano received an email asking a question: “I recall this unsolved case with some interest and wonder if you ever were able to obtain the information you were seeking?”The next day from a wholly different source the following email was received: “Hello This may seem a little odd, but I was very interested to find your piece on Janice. It happens that I was at school with her (when she was Janice Wright; her sister Linda was there too but older - Potters Bar High School in Hertfordshire, UK, c.1956-61.) Diana Barker was our headmistress. I lost touch with Janice when I left Potters Bar; we were certainly not close friends as children, but I do remember her as a very vibrant, leading figure in our class; extremely clever and gifted with music as well as dance. I often wondered what happened - I think she went to St. Michael's Convent at age 11. I heard nothing after that, but came across the dreadful news in 1983 and was terribly shocked. Since then she has come into my mind at times, and I tried a Google search, coming across your piece today. I would be most interested and grateful to know if there have been any developments at all since 2006, when your piece was posted. It seems odd that the police have never re-opened the case, even though DNA evidence has improved so much in the last 25 years. I have wonder why, and also why there was so little media coverage or follow-up at the time. I would be grateful to hear back if you can.”
It seemed that all of a sudden there was interest in a murder case that to all intent and purposes had been placed on hold. The same day an email was received with what seemed a little too much knowledge of the events of that night.
“For what it's worth, I have always thought that the key to the case was the car belonging to Janice Weston, and what it may have contained, with or without her knowledge, as the case may be, particularly the spare wheel.”
Will this be the breakthrough that the case requires? Was Janice involved with drug dealers? Were drugs placed in her tyre? Who was the man who bought a set of number plates identical to those on Janice’s car just a few hours after her death and only 20 miles away from where her body lay? Where is Tony Weston and what of his life since 1983? He was cleared of any involvement that is without doubt but with new evidence his recollections will be vital to solve this murder.
Online Publishing Company will make available the emails received to the police in this as still unsolved murder case that shocked the nation in 1983.