Author Topic: Jeremy Bamber - Is Bambi's killer innocent? by Bob Woffinden  (Read 5343 times)

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Jeremy Bamber - Is Bambi's killer innocent? by Bob Woffinden
« on: February 26, 2013, 01:47:24 PM »
Is Bambi's killer innocent?  by Bob Woffinden 19th May 2007

A lie-detector test. A tell-tale trickle of blood. Twenty years after Jeremy Bamber was jailed for the brutal slaughter of his family, startling new evidence raises a deeply disturbing question

At about 3.30am on August 7, 1985, Jeremy Bamber called the police. "My father's just phoned me," he told them.
"He said: 'Please come over. Your sister has gone crazy and has got a gun'."
That proved to be the start of one of the most remarkable criminal cases in English history - one that is still controversial today.
When police broke into the farmhouse owned by Bamber's parents, they found five people dead from multiple gunshot wounds.
According to all the first reports, Bamber's sister, Sheila - a model with psychiatric problems - had shot her six-year-old twin sons, her parents and then herself.
The Mail's headline next day was: "Drugs probe after massacre by mother of twins."
Over the weeks, however, the story changed.
Relatives found a silencer, showing traces of blood, in the gun cupboard and took it to police. If it had been used in the shootings, then how could Sheila have put it back there afterwards? And how could she have shot herself twice?
Then, a month after the murders, Julie Mugford, Jeremy Bamber's former girlfriend, went to police and painted a deeply damaging picture of him, including the claim that he wanted to get rid of his relatives.
Bamber, who was then 24, was charged with murdering his family.
In October 1986, he was convicted of all five killings, becoming one of the most reviled men in Britain. Michael Howard, then Home Secretary, ruled that he should never be released.
Bamber, who is now 46, has served more than 20 years but from the start he has vehemently protested his innocence.
He claims to be buoyed by what his father used to say: "Don't worry, Jeremy, the truth always comes out in the wash."
Last month, in Full Sutton prison near York, Bamber passed a lie-detector test. "Did you shoot your family?" he was asked.
"No," he replied.
Lie-detector tests have always been controversial; but if they are to be trusted, then Bamber is innocent.
Moreover, the Mail can reveal new evidence supporting his account. His solicitor has now asked the Home Office to release him immediately.
Nevill Bamber was a farmer and magistrate. He and his wife, June - both 61 when they died - married in 1949 and shortly afterwards took over White House Farm in the Essex village of Tolleshunt D'Arcy.
As they could not have children, they adopted Sheila and Jeremy (who were unrelated to each other) and privately educated them.
After college in Colchester, Jeremy spent some time in Australia and New Zealand before returning to work on his father's farm. He lived in the neighbouring village, Goldhanger, and in 1983 started a relationship with Julie Mugford, then a 19-year-old student at Goldsmith's College in London.
Sheila, who was 28 when she died, went to secretarial college, before working in London as a model, where she acquired the nickname Bambi. She married Colin Caffell in 1977, and their twin sons were born in 1979.
By that time, however, Shelia's mental health was poor. She and Colin divorced in 1982, and the following year she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital where she was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic.
In March 1985, a few months before the murders, she was described as "very disturbed" and "acutely ill" and was re-admitted, although she was released some weeks later.
Meanwhile, the twins lived with their father, though Sheila saw them regularly. On Sunday, August 4, Colin drove Sheila and the boys to Tolleshunt D'Arcy to spend a few days at the farm.
On Tuesday, August 6, according to Jeremy and another relative, Nevill and June suggested to Sheila that the twins should be put into foster homes.
When the farm secretary phoned that evening, she said Nevill was "very short" and thought she had interrupted an argument.
It was during that night, says Jeremy, that his father made his dramatic call. After phoning the police, Jeremy called Julie, before setting off for Tolleshunt D'Arcy. He arrived, he says, just two minutes after the police.
No one was allowed into the house. Even when the tactical firearms unit turned up at 5am, the police still waited outside.
Finally, four hours after Jeremy's urgent call, they burst into the house through the back door at 7.30am. They found five bodies. There had been 25 shots with a .22 Anschutz semi-automatic rifle, mostly at close range.
During the day, statements were taken from the main witnesses. Julie Mugford's supported Jeremy's.
At the time, the police were satisfied with the murder-and-suicide scenario. The original investigating officer, DCI 'Taff' Jones, has always believed this - as did the coroner.
Because the killer's identity was not in question, the house was not treated properly as a crime-scene; much forensic evidence was obliterated or never gathered. Bloodstained bedding and carpets were destroyed.
On August 10, relatives - Jeremy Bamber's cousins Ann Eaton and David Boutflour - found the silencer in the gun cupboard with what looked like a flake of dried blood on it. Though it was examined by police on August 13, they found nothing.
During the next month, Jeremy behaved neither sensitively nor prudently. There was a huge media presence at the funerals, where it was suggested that he was over-theatrical in his grief.
He certainly didn't otherwise appear grief-stricken. He had spent lavishly, flown to Amsterdam and even tried ( unsuccessfully) to sell soft-porn pictures of Sheila from her modelling days round Fleet Street for 100,000.
More than a month later, the silencer was examined again.
This time, a scientist found a speck of blood of the same type as Sheila's; he concluded that she must have been shot while the silencer was fitted to the rifle.
Apart from raising the question of who returned the silencer back to the cupboard, this discovery meant that it would have been impossible for Sheila to have killed herself because the gun would have been too long.
DCI Jones was removed from the case. (He died in a fall from a ladder at his home before the case went to trial.)
On September 3, Julie Mugford found out that Bamber had asked out another girl.
Furious, she threw an ornament box across the room and slapped him. He ended their relationship.
Four days later, she went to the police and told them a different story.
Bamber, she said, had shown no remorse; after the murders, he'd thrown money around and clearly enjoyed himself.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 03:06:32 PM by John »

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Re: Jeremy Bamber - Is Bambi's killer innocent? by Bob Woffinden
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2013, 01:47:47 PM »
Furthermore, he'd talked to Julie before the killings about wanting to get rid of them all, speculating about the perfect murder.
On the night of the massacre, she said, Bamber rang to say: "It's tonight or never."
He added that he'd hired a hitman, called Matthew McDonald, for 2,000. She could prove he was dishonest because they'd burgled the family-owned caravan site together five months earlier.
At the eventual murder trial, Julie's evidence was vital to the prosecution case. The Crown argued that Bamber detested his parents for having sent him to boarding school, and resented Sheila's success and the allowances they made for her state of mind.
But his chief motive, said the prosecutor, was to inherit about 435,000 and 300 acres of land.
The rest of the case seemed cut and dried. Sheila would not have known how to use the gun, which would have had to be reloaded at least twice.
The silencer would have made the gun too long for her to point at herself, and she couldn't have returned it to the cupboard. There were no bloodstains on her body or her nightdress and no traces of firearms residue - except a bit of lead on her hands.
There was no documentary evidence - as there would be today - to back up Bamber's claims of the phone call he received from his father.
On October 18, 1986, ten of the 12 jurors returned a guilty verdict.
Sentencing Bamber to life, Mr Justice Drake described him as "warped, callous and evil".
With hindsight, the case against Bamber was thin. There was no evidence that he had travelled from his home to the farmhouse and back again in the early hours of the morning.
Nor was there forensic evidence linking him to the crimes, other than one of his fingerprints being on the gun. But he admitted using it previously to shoot rabbits and Sheila's fingerprint was also on it; as were those of the policeman who'd picked up the gun after the murders.
When the silencer was found, no one who handled it had worn gloves to try to retain the evidence.
However, there was a flake of blood inside, and the forensic expert who analysed it concluded that it came from Sheila - backspatter (a spray of blood from the victim) after she had been shot.
However, another expert, who also gave evidence for the Crown, said that the .22 Anschutz was unlikely to produce backspatter - and even less likely to when fitted with a silencer.
Major Freddy Mead, a firearms expert appearing for the defence, noted that there were no grounds for believing that the silencer had been used at all during the attacks.
No one could even be sure that the blood in the silencer was Sheila's. The blood tests available at that time were basic. All that could be done was blood grouping.
The prosecution later conceded that Sheila's blood group matched that of Robert Boutflour, Jeremy's uncle, who was present when the silencer was found.
Other scientists said that the flake could have been a mixture of Nevill's and June's blood. The jury had asked whether this was a possibility.
There was also blood on the barrel of the rifle; again, no one knows whose.
It would be invaluable to learn more about this evidence, using scientific techniques available today.
But this is impossible because Essex police destroyed many of the original trial exhibits, including all the blood-based samples, in February 1996.
Those responsible insisted they had not realised that the exhibits might be needed - yet ever since the conviction, this case had been a hot topic.

In February 1996, it was still under consideration by the Home Office and was one of the first to be transferred to the new Criminal Cases Review Commission, which said the destruction of scientific exhibits was "in breach of the force's own guidelines".
Bamber's lawyers have always believed that Nevill and June were shot in their bedroom. June struggled across it before collapsing, while Nevill, having been shot twice, managed to get downstairs to reach the telephone and call Jeremy.
He then struggled with his assailant, who beat him with the rifle butt before shooting him dead. The prosecution maintained that there were signs of a tussle, with furniture being overturned, which meant that Jeremy, not Sheila, must have been the attacker.
However, according to a document later released by City of London Police (which had been asked in 1991 by the Home Office to conduct an independent inquiry into Essex police's handling of the investigation), the officers knocked over chairs when they burst into the house.
Further, Sheila could have subdued Nevill; having been shot twice, he would have been weak.
Also, it was possible for Sheila to have shot herself twice. The first wound, to her throat, was fired from a distance of three inches but would not have killed her instantly; the second, fired with the barrel pressed against the skin, would have done.
But could Bamber have shot her?
There was no evidence that Sheila had resisted and Bamber would have needed to be underneath her, with her acquiescing, in order to fire the shots at the angle they entered the body.
In effect, he was convicted on the evidence of his own conduct after the shootings, as well as the word of one scientist and his former girlfriend.
Yet not only did her account contradict much of what she had originally stated; it was not supported in crucial ways. The alleged hitman, Matthew McDonald, who gave evidence at the trial, had a strong alibi.
The Criminal Cases Review Commission referred the case to appeal in March 2001. The appeal began in October the following year.
By then, as much scientific testing as possible had been carried out.
The appeal court judges determined that June Bamber's DNA - but not necessarily Sheila's - was in the silencer. They added, however, that they believed there had been significant contamination of the samples and the results were meaningless.
Looking at the case as a whole, they concluded in December 2002 that "the deeper we have delved into the available evidence, the more likely it has seemed to us that the jury were right".
Bamber responded to the disappointment by changing his legal team.
Bamber's defence depends on whether Sheila was a viable suspect. Her family did not think she was capable of serious violence.
"Apart from the odd occasion when she has struck me in a temper," said her former husband, Colin Caffell, "she has, to my knowledge, never struck anyone."
However, Dr Hugh Ferguson, consultant psychiatrist at St Andrew's hospital in Northampton where she was treated, reported that she was "caught up with the idea that the Devil had taken her over and given her the power to project evil on to others, including her sons".
When she was discharged from hospital in September 1983, Ferguson wrote that she had thoughts that she was "capable of murdering her own children".
He made a "firm diagnosis" of schizophrenia, prescribing the antipsychotic drug Stelazine.
She was re-admitted in March 1985 and received injections of another anti-psychotic drug, Haloperidol.
The drug was found in her bloodstream when she died (as was cannabis).
As the appeal court judges said, "She had a psychotic illness requiring in-patient treatment. She had severe mood disturbances (schizophrenia) and she used cannabis and cocaine."
Learning of the killings, Dr Ferguson initially said that such violence was incongruous with his view of Sheila.
Yet, when told that it had been suggested that her children be taken into foster care, he said that this could have had "a catastrophic effect".
He added: "I would not have expected her to be passive about that."
Dr Ferguson said in his evidence that it would have transformed her image of her father from "a support and mentor into a hostile figure".
Instances of psychiatric patients murdering others and then themselves were almost unknown in 1985-6. But they have occurred with tragic regularity in the years since, particularly in the United States.
Bamber's current lawyer is the controversial Giovanni di Stefano. Born in Italy, di Stefano was raised in Northamptonshire and has built a practice in Italy and Britain. His clients have included Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic.
Di Stefano has found the previously lost statement of the first officer to enter the house, at 7.34am.
The officer stated: "(Sheila Caffell) had what appeared to be two bullet holes under her chin and blood leaking from both sides of her mouth down her cheeks."
This puts the case into a fresh light. If blood was still leaking from Sheila's wounds, then she had died relatively recently, and certainly long after the time that Bamber called the police.
It also fits with other evidence. That night, as police waited with Bamber at a safe distance from White House Farm, they said they saw someone moving through the house. That has always been known. Later, it was assumed they were mistaken. Perhaps they were right all along.
It could explain too why Sheila was not bloodied and had only traces of lead on her hands. She could have washed herself and changed before killing herself.
Professor Bernard Knight, a pathologist who gave evidence at the trial, said that those committing suicide would often engage beforehand in "ritualistic" cleaning.
One final aspect of the case that has never been given attention is - assuming Bamber was guilty - why would he have invented such a preposterous story about the phone call from his father?
It would have been simpler for him to go back to bed, make himself scarce and let it appear that there had been intruders.
The idea that he could invent a tale of a killing spree by a mentally disturbed woman to be lent credibility by further violent episodes over the following decade is hard to credit.
Following the lie-detector test, the case is now set more favourably for him than it has ever been.
Maybe the truth will still come out in the wash.

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« Last Edit: February 26, 2013, 03:09:41 PM by John »