EastEnders: Lucy Beale's killer - the likely suspects

By Danny Shaw
Home affairs correspondent, BBC News

image captionLucy Beal was killed in the soap on 18 April 2014

The EastEnders plot surrounding who killed character Lucy Beale has kept fans in the dark for the past 10 months. With the murderer set to be revealed on Thursday, we use the latest crime figures to take a not-too-serious look at the likely suspects.

Lucy Beale was mightily unlucky.

She died at a time when, according to the official crime survey of England and Wales, the risk of being a victim of crime was at its lowest for 33 years - when reports of violent offences were on the decline, and in a year the Metropolitan Police recorded London's lowest number of homicides since the 1960s. Poor Lucy.

The figures do suggest Lucy's killer will be caught: 90% of murder and manslaughter cases result in someone being charged with an offence, though a small proportion will be acquitted at trial.

But the key question, of course, is who murdered Lucy?

Was it Max Branning, with whom she had a secret affair? Lucy's dad, Ian? They'd argued about her stash of cocaine. Could it be Ben Mitchell - only recently released from prison after serving a sentence for murdering Heather? Or one of the 11 other suspects?

Family killing?

Whatever the scriptwriters have in mind, the statistics clearly point in one direction - but we'll come to that in a minute.

What is unlikely, though, is that Lucy was murdered by someone she didn't know. You may often see stranger killings in crime dramas, but in real life they're comparatively rare.

The latest data, compiled by the Office for National Statistics, show only 8% of murders of females over the age of 16 in 2013-14 were committed by a stranger, though in a further 9% of cases the suspect hadn't been identified.

Murders committed by women or girls are also highly unusual - about 10% - a figure which will trigger sighs of relief among half the EastEnders suspects, including Abi.

And it's improbable, based on the figures, Lucy was murdered by one of her friends: Jay, for instance. The category of friend or acquaintance killings accounts for only 9% of killings of women.

So, who is in the frame?

The official statistics suggest there's a 20% chance Lucy's killer was related to her - a group of suspects that includes brother Peter, half-uncle Ben (though convicted killers rarely go on to commit another murder after release) and dad Ian.

In fact, murders of children by their parents are statistically the most common family-type killing, so Ian's not in the clear just yet.

However, if art was going to imitate real life, then Lucy's killer is someone she had a sexual relationship with. It's a sad fact in the majority of female murder cases the killer is a husband, partner, boyfriend or ex.

There are only two suspects who can be classed as ex-partners of Lucy - Lee Carter, who she had a fling with, and of course, Max.

If I was from Walford CID, those are the two I'd have in my sights.

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