AN evening of revelry was beginning across Hong Kong when Howard Baron went to a friend's nondescript office in Star House, Tsim Sha Tsui, for the last time. It was Sunday, New Year's Eve, 1972. The clatter of mahjong tiles vied with the cheerful din from neon-lit bars like Bottoms Up in Tsim Sha Tsui where the American businessman's girlfriend, topless hostess Liz Pau, worked. Baron, 59, a hotel consultant who had connections with Hollywood and Hong Kong business leaders and was well known in film and theatre circles, entered Room 1603, the sparsely-furnished office rented by his friend, Tokyo-based film producer Steve Parker, husband of American actress Shirley MacLaine. By the time police arrived at the office shortly after 9 pm, Baron's body was almost cold. He had been shot at point-blank range through the heart with a .38 bullet. A chair was overturned, but there were no other signs of a struggle, according to evidence at the inquest into his death in February 1973. There were no known witnesses. No firm suspects. No weapon was found. No known motive. No strong leads, it seemed, for the head of the homicide squad, Superintendent Ernest 'Taffy' Hunt. In the weeks, months and years since his death, Baron's killing has been linked to a bodyguard and hitman working for the disgraced Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos, to a plot by disgruntled CIA operatives, to a failed scam selling Philippines pesos and to other similarly sensational theories. His relationship with Ms Pau, which conjured up images of a Suzie Wong-type affair, his showbusiness contacts, the lifestyle he led from his suite and office in the plush Peninsula Court, annex of the Peninsula Hotel, and his constant travel while wheeling and dealing in politically-troubled Asian countries, made good copy for the South China Morning Post that New Year. But all the theories came to nothing. The killing of Howard Baron is as much a mystery today as it was 22 years ago. Retired police officer Sammy Cheah, 70, a Detective Chief Inspector when he was on the case, recalls: 'He [Baron] was a lone wolf who stayed out of the limelight. He was involved in many business deals and had friends in high places, but we had no suspects.' Since Baron's death, most of the police involved in the investigation have retired or moved on, (or, in Hunt's case, been convicted of corruption in 1973 and now living in Spain). Marcos and his bodyguards are dead. Ms Pau and Mr Parker have faded into obscurity. Ms Pau was last heard of in Las Vegas. But a young man, who at 23 was fleetingly a suspect, is still determined to get what he believes should have belonged to his family on the death of his father. Three weeks ago Bruce Baron, 45, won a civil bout in the Court of Appeal which reversed earlier rulings by a Master of the Supreme Court, then by Mr Justice Barnett in the Supreme Court, refusing to allow his action to proceed. Mr Justice Nazareth, Mr Justice Litton and Mr Justice Bokhary held that Mr Baron can go ahead with a US$110,000 (HK$850,520) claim against an insurance broker and acquaintance of Howard Baron who had arranged his father's accident policy. The nine-page judgment centres on Mr Baron's Supreme Court writ lodged in October 1993 against four defendants - the broker Ilet Henry Fredricks, his firm I. H. Fredricks and Associates Ltd, the Hartford Fire Insurance Company and the Insurance Company of North America. Mr Justice Litton stated: 'At the risk of over-simplification, [Baron's] case in a nutshell is this: ' 'I was young and gullible. [Fredricks] was an experienced insurance agent, a friend of my late father, and had himself arranged the insurance for my father. Therefore, when he told me that my mother had no claim under the policy, I believed him. Belatedly, I realised that I had been grievously and wilfully misled. If I should fail to recover the insurance money from the company, because the claim is now stale, I hold [Fredricks] responsible.' ' To win, Mr Baron must successfully invoke Section 26 of the Limitations Ordinance, which allows for the lifting of the six-year Statute of Limitations only in cases of 'fraud, concealment and mistake'. The Court of Appeal has given him the go-ahead to attempt to prove this is such a case. Mr Fredricks, 68, a long-time Hong Kong insurance and tax consultant endorsed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, declined to comment on the Howard Baron case. 'I'm being sued on this thing. There are several things that are going to be argued, but it is nothing I'm going to discuss,' he said. Bruce Baron, a Lamma Island-based wine merchant who had legal aid for his lower court hearings, presented his own case to the Court of Appeal. He was refused Legal Aid in the Court of Appeal hearing and said he could not afford a lawyer. He too refused to comment on issues likely to be explored in possible future litigation. 'It's not the money. It's got to do with 22 years of history that nothing good came out of,' said Mr Baron, who scattered his father's ashes on the South China Sea. 'This is rightfully my mother's. I'm doing this on my mother's grave. My mother worked and paid rent the last 14 years of her life. She worked until two weeks before she died of cancer in 1985 because she could not get an insurance payout.' Howard Baron's murder - if it was a murder carried out with malice aforethought, rather than manslaughter - was an accident under the law; the law is clear - murder is an accident as far as the victim is concerned. Part of Bruce Baron's successful argument in the Court of Appeal was that for the past two decades he had mistakenly believed murder was not an accident. His realisation otherwise - the result of badgering by a nosey insurance broker who asked how much he received from his father's death - marked the start of his renewed quest to revive the case. Along the way, he has developed a keen sense of insurance and coronial law, pored over public records relating to the killing, contacted officers from Hong Kong to Spain once associated with the case and wracked his brains to figure out what happened. The official police classification is unlawful killing, according to Hong Kong Organised Crime and Triad Bureau Detective Superintendent Bob Youill, who looked into the old file at Mr Baron's request. He said suicide was not considered. Mr Baron says he's not a litigious person: 'I'm just trying to set right something that happened 22 years ago. For 22 years I have been searching for something good to come out of this whole thing. I have my teeth into it now and I'm not letting go until either my teeth fall out or I bite a chunk off.' Describing himself as a 'Hong Kong rich kid growing up at the height of the colonial era', Mr Baron was at a New Year's Eve party in Shek O when police told him his father was dead. Until his alibi was checked he was a suspect and his movements were watched. He said: 'I have heard all kinds of sensational stories. 'All I know is there has been intense speculation, from CIA links to drugs to laundering Marcos' millions. I call them the paranoid geo-political theories - and I say paranoid in the sense of delusions of grandeur.' He has tried to uncover the truth. But with no success. Pat Sefton, who ran the Bottoms Up bar when Baron was killed, recalls that the businessman and Ms Pau were to have joined her for a drink there on the night of December 31. 'It got to midnight and I was wondering where they were when a theatrical agent friend called to say he had been shot dead,' said Ms Sefton, who left Bottoms Up years later and started Club Wan Chai in Tsim Sha Tsui this month. 'There were a few of us who liked Baron very much. He had a terrific sense of humour. Liz, a gorgeous girl with a wonderful nature, was absolutely flabbergasted.' Shortly before his death, Baron was in a Manila hotel when three hand grenades were rolled across the foyer. Martial law had been declared weeks earlier in the Philippines as Marcos waged war against communist guerillas. One of the stories put about was that a Marcos secret service agent had him killed because he broke a deal to sell millions of dollars worth of 'Freedom Pesos' smuggled out of the Philippines. Bruce Baron went to the Philippines a decade later, but the agent and a Marcos bodyguard who had reportedly confessed to the killing - although this was later denied by Philippines authorities - had long since died. Head of the investigation Superintendent Hunt later tried to show that Howard Baron may have wanted to commission his own death because he was suffering from liver cancer. His son said he knew nothing of the disease until after the post-mortem. 'I was not really privy to what my father was up to. He had made a lot of money and he had been through a lot of money. 'The only money I saw him make came from hotel consultancy work and there were always a couple of years' work behind every bundle he made. It was not as if he went to the Philippines and came back with a suitcase full of cash.'