Bamber fails in latest bid to have murder convictions overturned

Murderer Jeremy Bamber lost his latest court challenge to overturn his convictions for killing his whole family in the notorious White House Farm shootings – but was given hope that new evidence may see him released.

Bamber’s bid to overturn his convictions for murdering his family at their farm in Tolleshunt D’Arcy in 1985 on the basis that there was a second silencer was rejected.

But despite being refused permission to seek a judicial review, Justice Julian Knowles said he has the makings of a fresh submission to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

The 59-year-old’s murder convictionfor the killing of his adoptive parents Nevill and June, both 61, his sister Sheila Caffell, 26, and her six-year-old twins Daniel and Nicholas, relied on large part that there was just one silencer in the house.

The crown said it would have been impossible for Ms Caffell to have shot herself with the sound moderator attached to the gun because she would not have been able to reach the trigger because her arms were not long enough.

Therefore, she must have been shot by someone else, and the prosecution said that person was Jeremy Bamber. The sound moderator was found in a cupboard.

The Crown says that June Bamber was shot while still lying in bed, but had managed to get up and walk a few steps before she collapsed and died by the main bedroom door.

Neville Bamber was also shot in the bedroom, but was able to get downstairs into the kitchen where there was a violent struggle before he was overwhelmed and then shot a number of times in the head. The children had been shot in their beds as they slept.

Sheila Caffell, probably in a sedated state from her medication, was also shot in the bedroom.

When she was dead the Crown said at Bamber’s trial in 1986 that he set about arranging the scene to give the impression that it had been she who had murdered her family before taking her own life.

According to the Crown, Bamber then discovered, as he laid the gun upon her body, that it would not have been possible for her to have shot herself with the sound moderator attached, since her arms were not long enough to reach down to the trigger. He therefore removed the silencer from the gun and positioned the Bible by the body, knowing Sheila had been preoccupied with religion in the weeks before her death.

It was the prosecution’s case that Bamber returned the moderator to the gun cupboard and before leaving the address called his home at Goldhanger, leaving the receiver off the hook, thus lending support to the alibi he would later rely upon,

He then left the premises, with one available route being to climb out of the kitchen window, banging it from the outside to drop the catch back into position, and then cycled home, said the Crown.

For his part Bamber has always maintained his innocence over the killings at the family farm in Essex in August 1985, insisting his sister was the shooter before turning the gun on herself.

In documents disclosed during a 2002 appeal was a handwritten document from a Dr Wingad of the Huntingdon Forensic Science Laboratory, in which it was stated that ‘there was no record of blood being seen on the outside of the moderator’.

He said that this contradicted the evidence given at trial about the presence of blood on the outside of the moderator as well as inside it.

It was argued that this suggested the evidence at trial was compromised, whether or not there was a second moderator.

Michael Turner QC, who represented Mr Bamber at the 2002 appeal, wrote to the DPP in October 2016 asking whether a second sound moderator had been recovered from the farm.

He said he had been told during the appeal in 2002 that there were two sound moderators.

On January 13, 2017, the CPS refused disclosure stating that the matters raised did not cast doubt on the safety of the conviction.

In the most recent submissions at the HIgh Court on Friday, June 5, Bamber’s representative, Joe Stone QC, said that the existence of a second moderator would potentially undermine the safety of the convictions.

While the prosecution also relied on other evidence, the question of whether Ms Caffell could have shot herself with the moderator affixed to the rifle became a prominent one. Mr Stone said there were questions surrounding the correctness of the attribution of the blood to Ms Caffell, and the attribution of the paint to a struggle with Neville Bamber.

He therefore argued the possibility that there was another silencer recovered, which would have required very careful consideration by the jury.

Justice Julian Knowles rejected Bamber’s judicial review of the CPS decision on disclosure.

But he offered fresh hope, ruling the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) should be the body looking at the case rather than the courts.

He said: “I have concluded that permission should be refused. This does not leave the claimant without a remedy. Much work has already been done and he has the makings of a fresh submission to the CCRC including an unqualified report from Mr Boyce in support of his case that there was a second moderator recovered from the farm.

“That provides him with the necessary basis for arguing that his convictions are unsafe.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter