Question remains: loner who sparked global mystery

EVEN AFTER his unmasking, ‘Neil Dovestone‘ and his life story still throws up more questions than answers.

An inquest into the death of the failed university student, croupier, tube train driver and Spurs fan, from a family of Jewish descent, shed more light on the man who spent the last decade of his life living in Muslim dominated Pakistan.

p11 neil dovestones
A sketch of David Lytton, named by mortuary staff as ‘Neil Dovestone’

Even with gaps in the plot lines it is still a fascinating and intriguing story.

David Lautenberg was born on April 21, 1948 in Middlesex Hospital. His father, who died in 2006, worked in a men’s clothes shop and David was described by brother Jeremy Lawton as someone who “was particularly about the way he looked and dressed”.

“He was photographed by a fashion magazine once by reason of how he dressed,” he added.

Mr Lawton described his older brother as a “genius, who could be really funny and was brilliant at mimicking people. We were both keen football supporters but I supported Arsenal and he supported Spurs.

“But he was something of a loner and preferred his own company. On family holidays he would go off on his own and because I was younger he would see me as a nuisance.

“David was incredibly bright and spent a lot of time studying. When he went into his teenage years he became more insular. The more insular he got the more we missed him.

“Pre university he didn’t get the marks he wanted. He wanted to go to Oxford or Cambridge but he only got to Leeds and was disappointed.”

Jeremy Lawton outside the inquest

At 18, Mr Lytton travelled on his own, coast to coast in America, on a Greyhound bus.

He was a student at Leeds between 1966-1970. The inquest was told he was an “A grade student who was expected to be extremely successful.”

But it was said he struggled to attend a lot of his studies because he slept by day and stayed awake at night.” He re-sat his exams in 1970 and failed. The same year he began his career as a tube train driver.

In the early 1970s he struck up a friendship with Salim Akhtar after meeting in a library that was to endure to his death. In a written statement Mr Akhtar said he initially knew the deceased as David Lautenberg.

In June 1986, Lautenburg officially changed his name to David Keith Lytton. “I don’t know why he changed and I never asked him,” said Mr Akhtar.

“We were similar people. Some may say our relationship was a bit peculiar but we didn’t pry into each other’s lives.

“We could go for months without speaking but remained close. He kept all aspects of his life that didn’t involve me private.

“He didn’t mix well in crowds. He wasn’t a person of this world. He didn’t drink, didn’t do drugs and was always well presented. We both shared an interest in the after life.

“He never expressed a desire to end his life and besides I wouldn’t associate a person who believed in suicide.”

DS John Coleman and DC Bragg
DS John Coleman and DC Bragg at a press conference last month

The duo travelled to Pakistan on three occasions; the first time in 1975, the last time in 2006.

In 1975, Mr Lytton also met Maureen Toogood, his partner for the next 31 years. Mr Akhtar was never told of the relationship.

In the 1980s Ms Toogood fell pregnant with a baby girl but suffered a miscarriage after four or five months.

“He became withdrawn and quiet in the months that followed and things were never the same between us after that,” she said in her statement.

“We had an unusual relationship and never moved in together. He liked his own space.

“He had a very difficult relationship with his family and I believe it was a fall out with his father that resulted him leaving the family home.”

Mr Lytton never attended the death of his father before he moved to Pakistan in October 2006.

Ms Toogood described Mr Lytton’s minimal living conditions at the house he bought in Streatham.

She said: “He didn’t spend money on luxuries; he didn’t own a car, he didn’t own a cooker, a fridge, washing machine or dishwater. I had to buy him a kettle.”

Ms Toogood, a former Great Ormond Street Hospital nurse, confirmed she never met Mr Akhtar but she did maintain regular contact with his mother, Sylvia, who is 96 and living in a London nursing home.

She last saw Mr Lytton on October 3, 2006. Three days later he left for a new life in Pakistan, having sold his house.

“I was shocked and very upset with David. We had shared so much I thought he would have treated me with more respect.”

Little was revealed about Mr Lytton’s life in Pakistan. But he was jailed for around five days, fined and blacklisted in 2008 for overstaying his visa.

CCTV of David Lytton at the train station on his way to Dovestone

In January, 2012, he underwent surgery for a broken femur and had a titanium plate inserted at a Lahore hospital.

His final visa was due to expire on December 15, 2015, provoking his flight from Lahore. He booked his ticket to the UK on December 5 but couldn’t fly out until December 10.

He was met by Mr Akhtar at Heathrow and spent the night of December 10 at the Travelodge. His luggage was left and never recovered. He had booked a five-day stay and paid his bill of £307 in advance and in cash.

On the morning of December 11, Mr Lytton started his fateful journey to Dovestone via Ealing Broadway, London Euston and Manchester Piccadilly.

It’s never been established how he travelled from Piccadilly to Greenfield where he asked Mel Robinson, landlord of the Clarence, to the “top of the mountains.”

A day later, cyclist Stuart Crowther from Chadderton, found Mr Lytton lying on Chew Track. The discovery sparked a global search for the man’s identity and baffled police forces around the world for nearly a year.

“He would have loathed it,” confirmed Mr Lawton of the subsequent publicity. “All this is bonkers.

“My brother was a very private guy. He never wanted to be famous even for 15 minutes. He just would have hated all this.

“I am a newsaholic and the whole thing passed me by for about a year. I don’t know anyone who knew anything about it.”

He added: “David was a very private man. He kept everyone compartmentalised from each other. He learned to do that from a very young age.

“I adored David. He was very different and after he left home we couldn’t get close again.

“There was a big argument but he couldn’t put it behind him. It was just a family row, go away, comeback. But he never did and we could never understand why.

“I met him dozens of times later on to try and re-kindle but he wanted to keep everyone at arm’s length. It was just the way he was wired.”

Asked for his own theory on why his brother died of strychnine poisoning he replied: “My theory? I think he was doing it recreationally. He had built up a huge resistance to it.

“I also think it was a very windy day. My brother had quite serious heart disease as well. Going up to the point where he died is really hard work. I think he took strychnine to help him get up there.

“What he was doing up there, I have no idea. I think probably the wind blew some in his face. That’s just my theory.”

Pressed on why his brother travelled to Saddleworth he replied: “As he had been living in a police state where he got into trouble for moving around he went up there because he could travel anywhere he wanted to go somewhere very English.”


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