Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bamber convicted after 'series of deceits' by police, appeal is told


By Paul Peachey


Jeremy Bamber was convicted for the massacre of five members of his family 17 years ago because of a "series of deceits" by police during the investigation, the Court of Appeal was told yesterday,.
Jeremy Bamber was convicted for the massacre of five members of his family 17 years ago because of a "series of deceits" by police during the investigation, the Court of Appeal was told yesterday,.
Detectives smuggled potentially tainted evidence into the Home Office laboratory, tampered with statements and held back documents which threw doubt over the whole case, said Michael Turner QC, for Bamber, at the start of his appeal hearing in London.
Bamber, 41, was jailed for life in 1986 for the murder of his adoptive family at White House Farm in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex. The farm worker claimed his sister Sheila Caffell, who had schizophrenia, killed their parents, Neville and June, and her six-year-old twin sons before turning the gun on herself.
The trial was told that he bragged to his ex-girlfriend about how he was going to kill his parents and a relative found a gun silencer, allegedly with Ms Caffell's blood on it, suggesting she could not have carried out the killings.
Mr Turner said the appeal would be based partly on new DNA tests that raised the prospect that blood on the silencer could instead have come from Mr and Mrs Bamber. But he said police had destroyed all the blood-based exhibits so the answer would never be known. He also said the defence team at the original trial may have been misled and photographs of the crime scene were not handed over.
He said the judges would be "asked to consider whether the actions of certain officers investigating the case tainted the whole of it". An appeal was dismissed in 1989 but last year the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case back to the Court of Appeal.
Mr Turner said swabs taken from the hands of Ms Caffell, which showed no traces of lead – implying she had not used a gun – had originally been rejected by scientists because they had been transported with guns, and could have been contaminated. "It's our case that the police smuggled in [either] a new set of hand swabs or rejected hand swabs without the knowledge of the scientists concerned," Mr Turner said. He also cast doubt on the testimony of Bamber's ex-girlfriend, Julie Mugford, who said Bamber had hired a hitman for £2,000 to commit the murders. He said police did not mention her connection with a cheque fraud. She claimed at the trial that she had no intention of selling her story, but soon afterwards received £25,000 from the News of the World, he said.
The appeal continues today.