Lawyers acting on behalf of Jeremy Bamber, serving a whole life sentence for one of Britain’s most notorious multiple murders, have sent the Crown Prosecution Service a report by a senior forensics scientist which they claim undermines vital evidence heard at his trial.And that's just the evidence Essex Police didn't mishandle or refuse to disclose!
Initially, the police and the coroner believed Caffell, a model known as Bambi who had recently been diagnosed with schizophrenia, had shot and killed her family and then turned the weapon on herself. The rifle used was found next to her body. It did not have a silencer attached. But a silencer was found in the gun cupboard in the house.
That would later form a key part of the case against Bamber, who was charged with the five murders and appeared for trial at Chelmsford crown court in October 1986.And it was found by the relatives who, if Bamber were convicted of murder, stood to inherit the farm. How fortunate!
At the trial, it was accepted that there were only two possible killers: Bamber or Caffell.Yes we've been here before.
The issue of the silencer was vital in persuading the jury, with the judge instructing them the silencer “could, on its own, lead them to believe that Bamber was guilty”.Except .... well, it's possible it wasn't as clear-cut as presented.
A week before Bamber’s trial started, the head of biology at Huntingdon Science Laboratories wrote a letter to Essex Police, seen by the Guardian, saying that the results of the blood tests would show that the blood “could have come from either Sheila Caffell or Robert Boutflour”. Boutflour, now dead, was a relative of Nevill and June Bamber and gave evidence for the prosecution. He was a regular visitor to White House farm and had used the guns kept there for shooting.
Despite the earlier statement, a forensic scientist who had examined the results for Huntingdon Science Laboratories told the jury that only Sheila Caffell’s blood was found in the silencer.There's even the possibility that it wasn't the right silencer:
Bamber has claimed for many years that evidence was not disclosed to the defence by Essex police showing that two silencers had been examined by forensic scientists. In the new report, the senior forensic scientist and leading firearms expert concluded that separate silencers were being examined by the police at the same time in different departments, based on “serious discrepancies” in how the devices were described and the fact that there was no record of any item being transferred from one section to the other.If you're thinking 'Hmmm, mishandling of vital evidence, lack of recordkeeping, all sounds a bit like the now-discredited case against Barry George', you're not wrong.
However, Bamber and those supporting him believe the issue of the silencers is a red herring – that Caffell killed the five family members, but no silencer was used.And it's timed well, as there's going to be an ITV movie next year. Often, the key to finally resolving miscarriages of justice is to keep the case's profile high with new generations.
A spokesperson for the CPS said: “We have received correspondence relating to this case and requested additional material in order to respond to the points raised.”
An Essex Police spokesperson said: “Essex Police has no comment to make on these claims given that Jeremy Bamber’s conviction has been the subject of several appeals and reviews by the Criminal Cases Review Commission and there has never been anything to suggest that he was wrongly convicted.”Well, there wouldn't be, would there? After all, you destroyed it, in defiance of three court orders...