[size=150]Jeremy Bamber did not murder his family,
insists court expert[/size]
[color=DarkRed]The crime was horrific: an elderly couple, with their daughter and her six-
year-old twins, were gunned down in an Essex farmhouse 25 years ago.
Their adopted son, Jeremy Bamber, has always protested his innocence.
But as this film shows, new evidence casts doubt on his conviction.
Mark Townsend and Eric Allison
The Observer, Sunday 21 February 2010
Inconsistencies in the key photographic evidence that convicted Jeremy Bamber, one of Britain’s most notorious multiple murderers, are being examined by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the authority that investigates miscarriages of justice.
Analysis of police negatives by one of Britain’s most eminent photographic experts has found them incompatible with the principal prosecution case used to imprison Bamber for the White House Farm murders 25 years ago. The conclusions reached by Peter Sutherst, a photographic expert with 50 years’ experience who provides technical advice to scenes of crime officers and is on the UK register of expert witnesses, were sent last week to the CCRC.
Sutherst had found that scratch marks said to have been caused by Bamber on the night of the killings might have been made more than a month after the murders.
Bamber, who was described by the trial judge as “warped and evil beyond belief”, was found guilty in October 1986 of shooting his adopted parents, June and Neville, his sister Sheila Caffell and her six-year-old twins, Daniel and Nicholas, at their Essex farmhouse. When he was home secretary, Michael Howard ruled that he should never be released from jail. Bamber, who is now 49, has served more than 23 years behind bars, but has always maintained his innocence.
During the trial, the jury was shown photographs of scratch marks allegedly made by a silencer fitted on the murder weapon, a .22 Anschütz semi-automatic rifle. According to the prosecution, the marks were made during a violent struggle between Neville, 61, and Bamber in the kitchen at White House Farm, Tolleshunt D’Arcy, during the early morning of 7 August 1985.
The jury was shown a close-up image of the scratches on the underside of a mantel shelf above the kitchen’s Aga cooker, close to where Neville’s body was found. He had been shot eight times in the head and neck at close range.
However, Sutherst’s analysis of crime-scene photographs taken on the day of the murders found no trace of the scratch marks. Sutherst subsequently discovered that the photograph of the scratches used in Bamber’s trial was taken on 10 September, 34 days after the murders.He also examined the carpet below the scratches.
Normally, the expert would expect to find a significant amount of chipped paint. Sutherst failed to locate a single speck of paint on the carpet. The scratch marks made by the silencer simply did not exist in the aftermath of the massacre, the expert concluded.
Sutherst – who says he came to the case with an open mind – said: "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.”
Sutherst, whose report is dated 17 January 2010, was asked in 2008 by Bamber’s legal team to study negatives of the CCRC case, including some never presented at the trial. Sutherst, who has supplied expert testimony in numerous police and Ministry of Defence inquiries, has conducted more than 100,000 investigations for Kodak into photographic defects and is on the technical committee of photographic processing for the British Standards Institution.
Barry Woods, of Chivers Solicitors, Bingley, West Yorkshire, who is representing Bamber, said: “Now it appears the scratches were not, in fact, made on the night of the murders. The significance of this development cannot be underestimated. The scratch marks were pivotal to the prosecution’s case.”
When addressing the jury, the trial judge instructed them that “the evidence of the sound moderator [silencer] could, on its own, lead them to believe that Bamber was guilty”.
When the police were first called to the scene, they thought the killings were consistent with murder-suicide. Detectives believed Bamber’s sister, Sheila – a model nicknamed Bambi, who had a history of mental illness and had referred to her sons as “Devil’s children” – had shot her parents and two children before turning the gun on herself.
Three days after the shootings, the case turned on its head. A cousin of Bamber found a silencer in the gun cupboard and took it to the police. Officers deduced that it was impossible for Sheila to have shot herself and then return the silencer to the cupboard. A scientist found a speck of blood on the silencer and concluded it had come from Sheila after she had been shot.
Subsequent forensic analysis shed doubt on whether the blood was Sheila’s. The focus of the murder investigation turned to Bamber and the following year he was convicted on a 10-2 majority verdict by a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court. Two previous appeals by Bamber against his life sentence have been rejected. Close observers of the case believe the latest evidence is by far the most compelling to emerge.
Scott Lomax, author of Jeremy Bamber: Evil, Almost Beyond Belief?, said: “I would expect Bamber to walk free by the end of the year.”
Speaking from Full Sutton Prison, near York, Bamber said: “This is what I have been waiting nearly 25 years for. It’s 100% solid proof. They cannot look at this new evidence and say it doesn’t cast doubt on my conviction.”
In 2008, Bamber was told by Mr Justice Tugenhadt that he would spend the rest of his life behind bars because the crime was so “exceptionally serious”.
Sutherst’s report is one of several grounds that lawyers have forwarded to the Criminal Cases Review Commission contesting the safety of Bamber’s conviction; newly obtained police documents reveal an unexplained “movement” of Sheila’s body after she was killed.
Bamber’s lawyers have also studied x-rays and ballistic reports they believe indicate that at least one round of ammunition was significantly different to the others, raising the possibility that it was changed to show it was fired through a silencer.
“Without the sound moderator [the silencer], it is unlikely the prosecution would have been able to build a strong enough case against Bamber,” said Woods.
August 1985 White House Farm shootings take place.
September 1985 Jeremy Bamber arrested and charged with five counts of murder.
October 1986 Bamber found guilty at Chelmsford crown court.
June 1987 First appeal to overturn conviction fails.
December 2002 Bamber loses second appeal to secure freedom.
May 2004 Bamber taken to hospital after attack by another inmate while making a telephone call from Full Sutton prison, near York.
April 2007 Bamber passes lie detector test.
May 2008 Loses High Court appeal against his whole life tariff.
May 2009 Bamber loses legal challenge against an order that he must die behind bars.
February 2010 Lodges new evidence to Criminal Case
Review Commission to try to win fresh appeal.[/i]
guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/feb/2 … tion-doubt