Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Multiple murderer given date for second appeal

New DNA evidence could free man convicted in 1986 of killing his adoptive family and blaming his sister for the crime
By Robert Verkaik Legal Affairs Correspondent

Jeremy Bamber, sentenced to life for murdering five members of the family that had adopted him, could be free by the end of the year after the Court of Appeal confirmed yesterday that it would hear his case in three months.

Bamber, 40, who was described as "warped and evil beyond belief" by his trial judge, has always protested his innocence of the killings at the family farm in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex, 17 years ago. He was convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court in October, 1986.

The six-week appeal, which starts on 14 October, is expected to focus on DNA evidence from blood on the silencer of the murder weapon, a .22 rifle. Bamber's legal team has had the blood subjected to tests, using DNA-related techniques not available at the time of the original investigation. These tests raise the prospect that the blood could have come from his adoptive parents Neville and June Bamber.

The trial jury had been told that June, 61, and six-year-old nephews Nicholas and Daniel were shot dead in their beds.

 His father, Neville, was found slumped downstairs, and his sister Sheila Caffell, a model nicknamed Bambi, was found by her parents' bed.

Detectives at first accepted Bamber's claim that Ms Caffell, who had not been taking her medication for mild schizophrenia, had used the rifle, kept for rabbits, and shot her parents and her two children, then killed herself.

 Ms Caffell was found by her parents' bed, her fingers curled round the stock of the rifle after Bamber telephoned Chelmsford police and said his sister had "gone crazy" with a gun.

The case appeared to be resolved as a straightforward murder and suicide until Julie Mugford, Bamber's girlfriend, told police he had frequently bragged about how he was going to kill his parents to collect a £436,000 inheritance.

 In court, she said Bamber had talked about sedating his parents and burning the farm. She claimed he changed the plan to hiring an assassin.

Three days after the shootings, Bamber's cousin David Boutflour and his wife Anne, of Wix, Essex, discovered the silencer, allegedly with traces of Sheila's blood on it, and police began to formulate a case against him. Nine weeks after the murder, Bamber was arrested after he returned from a holiday in France.

At his trial, a doctor, giving expert medical testimony, said it was impossible that Sheila could have returned the silencer to the cupboard, given the injuries she had suffered after the first shot.

Scientific evidence showed no traces of gun oil on Sheila's nightdress, though 25 shots were fired and the rifle had been reloaded two or three time.

 The prosecution also questioned whether Sheila would have had the strength to batter Bamber's 6ft 4in father to death.

Bamber's first appeal was dismissed in 1989, but last year the Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case to the Court of Appeal again. He has always maintained his innocence.

Cases pending in the court of appeal
Jeffrey Foster, from Knutsford, Cheshire, was sentenced to life in prison in 1986 after being convicted of robbing and murdering a 74-year-old pools collector. Although he was of low intelligence there was no appropriate adult present at police interviews. His appeal is to be heard on Monday.

Barry George was convicted of shooting the TV presenter Jill Dando outside her home inLondon in April 1999. His appeal will be heard on 17 July. Lawyers, led by Michael Mansfield QC, will argue that the original trial judge should not have allowed certain identification evidence to be put before the jury.

Russell Causley, an insurance broker, was convicted at Winchester Crown Court in 1996 of killing his wife, Carol Packman, 11 years earlier. Mrs Packman's body was never found, but years afterwards Causley faked his own death and claimed the life insurance. Confessions about the murder he allegedly made to prisoners while on remand for the insurance fraud are to form the basis of his appeal.

Harry MacKenney and Terry Pinfold were found guilty of murdering Terence Eve, which the prosecution said was part of a plan to take over Eve's toys business. They tried to get rid of the body by putting it in an industrial mincer. Both were convicted in 1980. Questions remain about reliability of one of the prosecution witnesses.

Michael Shirley, a Royal Navy able seaman, was convicted in 1988 of raping and killing Linda Cooke in Portsmouth while on leave. The jury was told that she was stamped to death. Evidence about one of shoe prints found on her body is to be contested by the defence. Referred to the Court of Appeal on 20 April 2001.

David Cooper and Michael McMahon were accused of shooting a sub-postmaster during a robbery in Luton in 1969 and convicted the following year. The case has been referred to the Court of Appeal four times: in 1971, 1975, 1976, and 1978. In July 1980 the two men were released by the Home Secretary because of a "sense of unease" about police evidence but the convictions stood. Both have since died.

Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged in the UK after being convicted of shooting her lover, David Blakely. Since her execution on 13 July 1955 the law of provocation has changed. If she was sent for trial now the prosecution may have accepted a plea of diminished responsibility. The case was referred to the Court of Appeal on 21 February.

Alfie Bain from Grenada, West Indies, was convicted of killing a prostitute in 1970. After his release he went back to the West Indies. He tried to clear his name but he died last year after his case was referred to the Court of Appeal.