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Brian Jones death, renewed doubt about police investigation.
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After Brian Jones was found dead in his swimming pool in 1969, the authorities quickly decided that the Rolling Stones star had drowned accidentally.
According to a new article published recently on British newspaper The Telegraph, now a previously unseen witness statement has cast renewed doubt on the police investigation. Two weeks after Jones died, Joan Fitzsimons, 29, was brutally attacked. A local cab driver, she had been at Jones’s house on the night he died and was a girlfriend of Frank Thorogood, a builder-cum-minder for Jones who was allegedly a suspect in the fatal drowning.
Before the attack, she had told friends in a pub that she was planning on telling the true story of Jones’s death to the national newspapers. In the witness statement, given to officers investigating the assault on Fitzsimons, her brother, John Russell, described how she was “frightened” of Thorogood and that she believed there was more to Jones’s death than the official verdict. brian jones death renewed
Sussex Police denied there was any link between the attack on Fitzsimons and Jones’s death. Just before 10pm on July 26 1969, Fitzsimons was found unconscious in the back of her lime-green Ford Zephyr, four miles outside Chichester, blinded in both eyes, with a fractured skull and three of her front teeth missing.
The statement that Russell gave to Sussex Police on July 30 1969 was placed inside the National Archives, with an order that it remain closed until 2041, but has now been released under a Freedom of Information request. Russell recounted a conversation he had with his sister days before she was attacked.
He said: “She said that she was frightened of Frank and she started talking about the death of Brian Jones.
“She had been over at his house that night just before he died and she thought that he [Jones] was quite able to look after himself. “She said that things hadn’t finished there yet and if it got out that she thought this, then she would be the next one.”
Russell said his sister revealed plans to write to the papers about Jones’s death. The statement says: “We then went on and talked about it and I told her to be careful.” The statement fits in with evidence given to Sussex Police by Fitzsimons’s mother, Irene Russell, who told investigating officers that Thorogood had turned up at the family home in July 1969, demanding to know where Fitzsimons was. brian jones death renewed
Irene Russell said: “Frank said to me that Joan knows a lot about the Rolling Stones that shouldn’t get out. Joan, as it appeared to me, was frightened of Frank.” Within days, Joan was found unconscious in the back of her car.
Local and national newspapers reported the attack on Fitzsimons, claiming it was linked to Brian Jones’s death. On August 26 1969, under the headline “Brian Jones death: new probe”, a report in The Daily Express said: “The key to this new investigation is a woman patient who is critically ill in a Chichester hospital. She is Mrs Joan Fitzsimons, a local taxi driver who was a regular chauffeur to the Rolling Stones.
“Detectives wanted to find out from her whom she drove on the night 27-year-old Jones died and if she was present at Jones’s home at any time during the fatal evening.” On the same day, Sussex Police released a statement saying: “There is no truth in those reports whatsoever.”
But evidence released under a Freedom of Information request shows that behind the scenes, Sussex Police did know the reports were true, and they were actively working to “eliminate” – not investigate – these lines of enquiry. Sussex Police knew that Fitzsimons was at Jones’s house on the night he died and that she drove guests of the star away from the scene not long before he drowned.
A note from the Sussex chief constable’s office in 1969 regarding Fitzsimons said: “She is to be asked as to her reason for allegedly being afraid of Mr Francis Thorogood as referred to in a statement of her brother Mr John Russell and what knowledge she has relating to the death of Brian Jones which causes her to be frightened.” In 1994, Albert Evans, the junior Pc who was first on the scene, wrote to the chief constable of Sussex Police saying: “I personally was not convinced that we were given the correct story by Thorogood and his associates.”
Evans described the police investigation as “most unsatisfactory”. He later said that after arriving at Jones’s house and speaking to a crowd of witnesses who were in the garden, he came to believe that Thorogood had been involved in the death. But Evans said that when two senior officers from Sussex Police arrived hours later, the investigation instantly changed direction. The number of witnesses was reduced from more than 20 to three: Thorogood; Jones’s girlfriend Anna Wohlin; and a nurse, Janet Lawson, and the line of inquiry focused only on alcohol and drugs being responsible for the star’s demise. Years later, both Lawson and Wohlin said that they had not written their witness statements in 1969.
Speaking shortly before she died in 2008, Lawson described her witness statement as “a pack of lies”. “The policeman suggested most of what I said. It was a load of rubbish.” Lawson claimed that she saw Thorogood attack Brian: “I went into the house to look for Brian’s inhaler. Frank jumped back in the pool, did something to Brian and by the time I came back, Brian was lying peacefully on the bottom of the pool with not a ripple in the water.” Sussex Police eliminated Thorogood as a suspect in the attack on Fitzsimons, after his wife said he had been in London on July 26. brian jones death renewed
Thorogood – the last person to see Brian Jones alive, and the man seen searching for Joan shortly before she was attacked – was never charged with any offences. He died in 1993. Sussex Police said: “The death of Brian Jones was investigated in 1969 and was also the subject of two reviews initiated by Sussex Police, in 1984 and 1994. “No new evidence has emerged to suggest that the coroner’s original verdict of ‘death by misadventure’ was incorrect. The case has not been re-opened and there are no plans for that to happen.”