January 08, 2020
Pain etched across his features, Jeremy Bamber looked close to collapse at the funeral of his adoptive parents and sister.
How White House Farm Murderer Jeremy Bamber Still Denies The Crime 35 Years On
Clutching the hand of his girlfriend Julie Mugford, clad in a chic black mourning veil, it was impossible to view the then 24-year-old as anything but a man crushed with grief.
On August 7, 1985, June and Neville Bamber, both 61, had been shot dead in the family farmhouse in Essex. Their six-year-old grandsons Daniel and Nicholas had been murdered in their beds – apparently by their mother, Jeremy’s sister, Sheila “Bambi” Cafell. police said the 26-year-old then took her own life. The farm house was locked from the inside, so the possibility of an intruder was immediately eliminated. Sheila, who had mental health problems and had stopped taking the medication she had been prescribed for schizophrenia, was found dead, with the gun still in her hands and a bible balanced on her chest.
Jeremy said he had received a frenzied phone call from his father on the night of the tragedy, telling him to fetch help because Sheila had gone “berserk” with a gun.
Tabloids picked over details of Sheila’s life, depicting her as “drug-crazed”, and her brother as a handsome man suffering under the weight of a terrible loss. Press coverage of the funeral, including the now iconic image of Jeremy breaking down in tears outside the church, plastered the media.
Jeremy, who stood to inherit nearly £500,000 after the deaths, fed the tabloid appetite by dining out in fancy restaurants and taking holidays in the south of France.But nine weeks after the deaths, and immediately after his return from one of his European sojourns, Jeremy was arrested on suspicion of the murders. Within 14 months he had been charged and convicted of killing his own parents, sister and nephews, with the judge describing him as “evil, almost beyond belief”.
Jeremy is currently serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole and is one of the few prisoners in the UK subject to a whole-life order. His conviction has been the subject of several appeals and reviews.
Now ITV’s dramatisation of the tragedy – White House Farm – will examine how botched police work and the stigmatisation of a treatable mental health condition almost led to a murderer slipping free. Lawyers for Bamber had asked ITV to postpone the series in light of a current legal challenge, but this was refused by the broadcaster.
Freddie Fox takes the role of Jeremy Bamber, with Cressida Bonas playing his sister Sheila. Her former husband and father of her twin boys Colin Caffell is portrayed by Mark Stanley and Mark Addy is Detective Sergeant Stan Jones, an officer who pursued the truth even in the face of opposition from his seniors. The courtroom scenes were filmed at Chelmsford Crown Court, where Bamber was convicted.Ahead of the show, Fox said: “I cannot and would not give an opinion on whether I feel Jeremy Bamber is guilty or innocent. It is not my place to do that, but obviously he is a psychologically interesting person who is both articulate, well-spoken, well-educated, determined and, quite possibly, manipulative. It was a very interesting balance to strike.”
Director Paul Whittington said: “One of the big things for me in telling this story was to understand the attitude towards mental illness at that time and how that can still inform attitudes today. A lack of understanding about mental health was definitely part of the flaws of the initial investigation.
“It’s important for Sheila’s ex-husband and father of their twin boys Colin Caffell, who has been very supportive of this project, that we see Sheila as a wonderful mother as well as someone who suffered from mental illness. The portrayal of Sheila is one of the most important things about this drama.” 
Colin Caffell, who was heavily involved in the project and wrote his own account of the tragedy in his book In Search of The Rainbow’s End, said: “Sheila was a passionate young woman, hungry for loving affirmation, but with no real concept of how beautiful she actually was. Before she was diagnosed and medicated she could be explosive as a way of dealing with her frustration.“But she was only ever destructive towards inanimate objects, breaking things in order to cause a reaction in others, usually me. As a mother of twins, she was always kind and loving, playful like a lioness with her cubs, never, ever angry with them.
“People forget the details of this case but so many have stuck in their mind that Sheila was a drug addict. She was not a drug addict. Sheila was very subdued by her prescribed medication.”
Indeed Detective Sergeant Stan Jones, played by Addy, held doubts about the murder-suicide theory from the start.
Addy said: “Mental illness was viewed very differently in the 1980s. People knew relatively little about it, so you could see how people would initially have accepted she must have gone ‘crazy’ and carried out the murders. She was a troubled soul but not a killer.”
Caffell added: “It reminds the viewer of the brutality of the whole thing. And the fact that Sheila, a slip of a girl at 5ft 7ins, couldn’t overcome Nevill Bamber, a man who was six foot four, an active farmer who lifted bales. There was no way Sheila could have achieved that… She had never picked up a rifle in her life and certainly never knew how to fire one or reload one.”
The murder-suicide theory – backed by the phone call Jeremy claimed he received from his father on the night of the deaths – meant police didn’t think there was a crime scene to keep intact and as a result, people were walking through the house and through the blood immediately after the murders at a time when forensics were a relatively new tool. Gemma Whelan, who plays Jeremy’s cousin Ann Eaton, said: “There was a bloody-minded attitude that the police felt certain they knew what had happened and wanted to close the case as soon as they could to move on from the media spotlight.”
The turning point came when Jeremy’s girlfriend Julie Mugford, played by Alexa Davies, finally cracked and told police that her lover had planned and executed the murders.
Jeremy’s arrest followed soon afterwards.
His case has since been the subject of several appeals and reviews by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
Jeremy’s legal team at Quality Solicitors Jordans described the current case for appeal as “complex”, but said if successful it “would be one of the UK’s most notorious miscarriages of justice”.
In October the Mirror carried a story about a telephone note that referring to a call made by Jeremy on the night of the killings, allegedly showing he was not at the scene at the time.Jeremy had argued two calls were made to police on the night of the murders, one from himself and another from his father, but the prosecution at his trial had alleged there was only one which was made by Jeremy at 3.26am from the scene.
The new note is said to refer to a call, timed at “approximately 3.37am”, from Jeremy.
His legal team argue it shows Jeremy could not have made a 3.26am call from the farm and returned to his home 3.5 miles away in Goldhanger to make the second call, the newspaper said.
Bamber found the note among thousands of police documents released to him in 2011. It is reported the note states: “We received a telephone call at the P.Stn (Police Station, Witham).
“The officer (PC West) at CD Control (Chelmsford) was on the phone and told us that he was relating information to us and still had the informant (Jeremy Bamber) on the other telephone.”
The legal team suggests the new note could support an alternative theory that Sheila carried out the murders before taking her own life.
Jeremy has said his father called him and said Sheila had “gone crazy”.
The jury at his Chelmsford Crown Court trial were directed to disregard Jeremy’s claims that he had called police from his home.The note is said to come from an interview with a PC Myall, of Essex Police, during the Dickinson Inquiry into the force’s handling of the case.
Last month Jeremy’s legal team confirmed that judicial review proceedings had been issued against the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over “serious non-disclosure which our client says have occurred”.
A statement from Quality Solicitors Jordans said: “We have been engaged in an extensive dialogue with the CPS for some time as our investigation in conjunction with the team supporting this case has uncovered what appears to be significant evidence pointing to the fact that there has been a miscarriage of justice. However, in order that we can progress this case further, essential further disclosure is required which has been set out to the CPS in precise terms. 
“It is disappointing that the CPS has chosen not to engage with that process and accordingly there is no alternative but to pursue that judicial review, particularly in circumstances where it appears that this may demonstrate that a misleading position was placed before the jury in relation to the forensic evidence.”The solicitors’ statement added: “We do not propose to comment further upon the matter whist judicial review proceedings are underway. We are aware that this case gives rise to huge media interest, but we would recommend caution whilst proceedings are underway in view of the consequences to this litigation and any future appeal.”
Indeed, Jeremy’s legal team had asked for the programme to be postponed, though not cancelled.
They said: “This arises in the context of an ongoing and very active process to seek the return of the case of Jeremy Bamber back to the Court of Appeal, including importantly judicial review proceedings which have been issued against the Director of Public Prosecutions relating to serious non-disclosure which our client says have occurred.
“As a result of this, we have written to the producers of the drama series and invited them to postpone the broadcast of this series whilst matters are resolved in the High Court. We have intimated that we are concerned that such a drama series by nature will place a fictitious narrative in the public domain which may be counter-productive to the administration of justice in due course.”
A spokesperson for Essex Police said: “Jeremy Bamber’s conviction for killing five people, including two children, has been the subject of several appeals and reviews by the Court of Appeal and the Criminal Cases Review Commission over a number of years.
“These processes, including a number of Essex Police internal reviews, have never found anything to suggest that Bamber was wrongly convicted of these murders 35 years ago.”White House Farm airs on ITV on 8 January 2020 at 9pm and will continue weekly on Wednesday for six episodes. Related... Jeremy Bamber Lawyers Fail To Postpone ITV Dramatisation Of The White House Farm Murders
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