Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Britain: Fresh doubt cast over conviction of multiple murderer Jeremy Bamber thanks to 'compelling' new evidence

After almost a quarter of a century in jail, Jeremy Bamber could be freed thanks to 'compelling' evidence casting doubt on his conviction for five murders. Bamber, 49, was given life after his adoptive parents, their daughter and her six-year-old twins were gunned down at their farmhouse. He has always protested his innocence and made two unsuccessful appeals, with a judge telling him in 2008 that he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.

But new evidence has been lodged with the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates miscarriages of justice. It includes fresh analysis of police photographs of the scene which, Bamber's supporters believe, fatally undermines the prosecution's case against him.

It was in the early hours of August 7, 1985, that Neville and June Bamber, their daughter Sheila Caffell and her six-year-old sons Daniel and Nicholas were shot dead in the kitchen of White House Farm in Tolleshunt D'Arcy, Essex. The murder weapon, a .22 Anschutz semi-automatic rifle, was found in Sheila's hands.

Jeremy Bamber, who lived nearby, claimed his father had phoned him saying: 'Sheila's got the gun, she's gone crazy.' Sheila, a model who had a history of mental illness, had referred to her twins as the 'Devil's children'. Detectives initially assumed she had shot her parents and two children before turning the gun on herself.

But suspicion fell on Bamber, who stood to inherit £500,000 on his adoptive parents' death, after scratch marks were found on a shelf above the Aga, allegedly caused by a silencer fitted to the murder weapon. The silencer was found in a gun cupboard, and police deduced it would have been impossible for Sheila to return it there after shooting herself. The conclusion was that Bamber carried out the murders after a violent struggle in the kitchen with his 61-year-old adoptive father during which the shelf was scratched.

At the trial, jurors were shown closeup pictures of the scratch marks. The judge instructed them that the evidence of the silencer 'could, on its own, lead them to believe that Bamber was guilty'. But photographs taken immediately after the murders showed no trace of the marks, according to Peter Sutherst, an expert with 50 years' experience who provides technical advice to police scene-of-crime officers.

Asked by Bamber's legal team to examine the evidence, Mr Sutherst discovered the scratch-mark photos were actually taken 34 days after the murders. He concluded that the marks simply did not exist at the time of the killings. Secondly, he looked for chipped paint, which he would expect to find on the carpet below the shelf if it had been scratched. But he found none in the crime scene photos.

He said: 'The prosecution case regarding the scratch marks was crucial to the conviction of Jeremy Bamber. Here was evidence that he in all probability had not done the deed.' Bamber's solicitor Barry Woods 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.'

Bamber himself, who is in Full Sutton Prison, near York, told the Observer: 'This is what I have been waiting 25 years for. It's 100 per cent solid proof. They cannot look at this new evidence and say it doesn't cast doubt on my conviction.'

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today. Now hosted on Wordpress. If you cannot access it, go to the MIRROR SITE, where posts appear as well as on the primary site. I have reposted the archives (past posts) for Wicked Thoughts HERE or HERE

No comments: