Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Court drama that gripped a nation for 18 days

It was a case that gripped the nation, and certainly held in thrall all of us who witnessed the trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

For 18 days we packed into the court to see if Jeremy Bamber, a bright, handsome young man with everything in life before him, could really have slaughtered his entire family.

The dead were his wealthy adoptive parents, June and Nevill, his sister, Sheila "Bambi" Caffell, and Sheila's six-year-old twin sons, Daniel and Nicholas.

In the end, the jury decided, by a 10 to two majority, that Bamber was indeed the man who pulled the trigger of a .22 semi-automatic rifle, leaving his parents' farmhouse looking more like a slaughterhouse.

Bamber protested his innocence from first to last, claiming his sister, Sheila, 27, committed the murders.

But various pieces of evidence gradually led to suspicion switching.

Also, damningly, Bamber's cousin, David Boutflour, had discovered in a cupboard a blood-stained gun silencer which seemed to prove that Sheila could not be responsible.

But the key witness at the Chelmsford trial was Bamber's girlfriend Julie Mugford.

She told the jury that Bamber had boasted he would kill the entire family, and that he had confided in her about the murders.

On his turn in the witness box Bamber said his sister was not right in the head, and had gone crazy and carried out the killings.

The jurors had to weigh up the fact that Bamber stood to inherit a fortune. They had also heard strong evidence from Julie Mugford.

Finally, the prosecution asked, matter-of-factly: "You killed them all, didn't you?"

Bamber replied "No."

He has replied "No" to the same question for the past 16 years.