England (Chelmsford CC)
Jeremy Bamber
Aug 7, 1985

Jeremy Bamber, 25, was convicted of the shooting murders of his father, Ralph Nevill Bamber, 61, his mother, June Bamber, 61, his sister, Sheila Caffell, 27, and his twin nephews, Daniel and Nicholas Caffell, both 6. Jeremy was adopted by his parents as was his unrelated sister. The killings occurred at White House Farm in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex. At 3:36 a.m. on August 7, 1985, Jeremy called the police from his cottage in Goldhanger, 3 1/2 miles away, to tell them that Nevill had phoned him and said that Sheila, a paranoid schizophrenic, had “gone crazy” and had got a gun. Sheila was known to have considered ending her life and expressed an intention to kill her sons. After calling police, Jeremy drove to White House Farm and met up with officers who were already there. Police staked out the farmhouse for several hours before entering it at 7:34 a.m. where they found five people shot to death. Sheila was found shot twice under the chin with a rifle in her hand. Police initially thought Sheila had committed the murders before turning the gun on herself.

Three days after the shootings a cousin of Jeremy found a silencer in a gun cupboard and took it to the police. A scientist found a speck of blood on the silencer and concluded it had come from Sheila. Officers concluded that Jeremy must have committed the murders as it was impossible for Sheila to have shot herself and then have returned the silencer to the gun cupboard. Subsequent analysis cast doubt that the blood was Sheila's. However, scratch marks found on woodwork at the crime scene 34 days after the shootings were alleged to have been made by the silencer. Prosecutors maintained Jeremy committed the killings and then placed the murder rifle in his unstable sister's hand to make it look as like a murder-suicide. They alleged he removed the silencer before putting the rifle in his sister's hands as the silencer would have made the rifle too long for her to pull the trigger and shoot herself. Jeremy was purportedly motivated to kill his family to obtain an inheritance of £436,000 and 300 acres of land.

Jeremy had a girlfriend, Julie Mugford, who was supportive of him at first, but a month after the killings turned against him when he asked an old girlfriend out in her presence. Mugford, by her own admission tried to smother Jeremy with a pillow, stating, “If I can't have you, nobody can.” She then claimed Jeremy plotted to kill his family for many months before their deaths and had even hired a hit man. The man she named was found to have a solid alibi and was dismissed as a suspect by police. Although Mugford was not deemed credible by police, her testimony was used by the prosecution at trial. Jeremy was convicted of all five murders by a 10 to 2 jury verdict. The trial judge called Jeremy “evil almost beyond belief.” Jeremy was given five life sentences and the Home Secretary ruled that he should never be released.

Years after Jeremy's conviction, his defence obtained evidence withheld by the prosecution: (1) A telephone log indicates Nevill had called police at 3:26 a.m. from White House Farm to report his daughter had gone “beserk” and that “she has got one of my guns.” This call occurred 10 minutes before Jeremy called them from his cottage. Since the prosecution alleged Jeremy was at White House Farm and used a bicycle to travel the 3 1/2 miles from it to his cottage, he could not have faked Nevill's call and then made the second call from his cottage. (2) Radio logs indicate police had seen someone moving within the farmhouse at 3:45 a.m. and stated they were in conversation with someone inside the farmhouse at 5:25 a.m. This person presumably was Sheila as Jeremy was with police outside.

(3) When police broke into the house at 7:34 a.m. they reported finding a male body and female body in the kitchen, a situation they described as a murder and a suicide. However, police later maintained that only Nevill was found in the kitchen. All the other bodies were found upstairs. Thus at some point Sheila's body was moved. Sheila had two gunshot wounds under her chin, only one of which was immediately fatal. A likely scenario is that she shot herself once in the kitchen and was unconscious when police found her. She then revived and ran upstairs while police were securing the house before shooting herself with an upstairs gun.

(4) Sheila must have been dead seconds after receiving her most critical gunshot wound, but crime scene photos taken at 10 a.m. show Sheila's blood was fresh and still flowing, a finding that is inconsistent with the theory that Jeremy had fatally shot her more than 6 hours before. The prosecution and case pathologist never stated Sheila's time of death, not even an approximate one.

(5) Initial crime scene photos show the scratch marks that Jeremy allegedly made with a silencer were not present immediately after the killings. The details of the silencer's finding suggest Jeremy's cousins created the scratch marks to get him convicted so that they would inherit the Bamber estate. In 2010, Jeremy's case is being reviewed by Britain's Criminal Cases Review Commission.  (www.freejeremybamber.com) (Innocent) (www.jeremy-bamber.co.uk)  [11/10]