Jeremy Bamber: The Silencer On The Mantel Mystery
JEREMY Bamber was found guilty of murdering five members of his family. He wants to appeal. The Criminal Cases Review Commission is deliberating. Bamber is serving a whole life tariff. Unless he is freed he will die in jail.
In 1985, Bamber killed his mum, dad, sister and twin nephews. When the case went before the jury at the Old Bailey, they could only form a majority verdict. There was doubt as to his guilt. Bamber blamed his sister, a mentally ill model called Sheila Caffell. He says she killed the family and then took her own life.
Sheila was found lying next to a Bible with two gunshot wounds to her neck. The murder weapon, a .22 Anschutz semi-automatic rifle, was found in her hands
Bamber is in Full Sutton prison in York. His appeal relies on the work of photographic analyst Peter Sutherst. He’s a photography expert who provides technical advice to scenes of crime officers.
At the trial, the jury was shown photographs. Their attention was drawn towards scratch marks on the underside of a mantel shelf above the Aga in the kitchen at White House Farm, Tolleshunt D’Arcy. These marks, it was alleged, had been made by a silencer fitted on the gun that Bamber had used to kill with. The prosecution argued that these marks were made during a fight between Neville Bamber, 61, and Bamber before the older man was shot eight times in the head and neck.
Mr Sutherst says the police photographs taken at the time show no scratch marks on the mantelpiece. Moreover, there is no evidence of chipped paint on the floor. And finally, Mr Sutherst learnt that the photograph of the scratches used in Bamber’s trial was taken on 10 September, 34 days after the murders.
Mr Sutherst opined:
“My conclusion, drawn from examination of photographs taken from the time of the case, was that the marks had occurred something like a month later. The prosecution case regarding the scratch marks was crucial to the conviction of Jeremy Bamber and therefore it was significant when I realised they had been made something like a month later. Here was evidence that Jeremy Bamber in all probability had not done the deed.
“It is quite clear from the reconstruction I made that the marks don’t appear in the original crime scene evidence. Having done that, you draw your own conclusions as to where and when that happened. It starts to become an entirely different case altogether.”
You see, because no silencer was found fitted to the gun, police deduced it must have bene removed after the murders. How could Ms Caffell be guilty if she was dead before the gun was changed?
So. Will Jeremy Bamber be released? Whatever happens, it will not happen fast:
Even if he overcomes the first hurdle, the Court of Appeal is unlikely to sit for at least six months.
A man might be innocent, but the wheels of justice need to break for weekends and luncheon.
The Coffins of Neville and June Bamber and their daughter Sheila Caffell, three of the victims who were murdered at their home in Essex. Almost overcome with grief is the family's adopted son Jeremy Bamber (centre) at the funeral in St. Nicholas's Church in Essex. * 12/3/2001: Bamber, later jailed for killing five members of his family, is to be re-examined by the Court of Appeal it emerged. The thirty nine-year-old was jailed for life after being found guilty of murdering his mother, father, sister and twin nephews at the family farmhouse in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex. The Criminal Cases Review Commission said it had referred the conviction to the appeal court after considering the evidence against Bamber. 17/10/02: Bamber - one of the most notorious killers of the past 20 years - starts his appeal at the High Court in London. He was jailed for life in 1986 after being convicted of shooting dead his mother, father, sister and twin nephews at the family farmhouse in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex. One of the strands of the hearing is expected to centre around new DNA evidence.