Convict vows to continue fight

SUFFOLK: One of the men behind the infamous gangland murder of three drug dealers has been told that his second appeal bid looks set to be turned down.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) announced yesterday they had completed their analysis of the case against convicted murderer Jack Whomes, of Brockford, near Mendlesham, and his co-accused Michael Steele, of Great Bentley, Essex.

The pair were jailed for life in 1998 for the execution-style killing of three men in Essex and they have been fighting to prove their innocence ever since.

However, they were told yesterday the CCRC is recommending the case is not referred to the Court of Appeal.

This would have been the second time the case would have reached the Court of Appeal following a previous failed attempt to overturn their convictions.

Solicitor Chris Bowen said: “They are shocked by the decision, but they remain totally steadfast.

“They have shown the most amazing dignity and spirit in reacting to today’s news. We are already going through the report and can see there are a number of avenues that we will pursue with vigour.”

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A spokesman for the CCRC confirmed a provisional statement of reasons had been issued and that the legal team working for Whomes and Steele has until December 8 to present their arguments against the recommendation before a final decision is made.

He added: “It is not particularly unusual for the decision to change after the issuing of the provisional statement of reasons.”

Whomes’ mother Pam, 72, said: “I am devastated – completely devastated. But after I get over the shock I will do what I did last time. I will carry on and stick by Jack to prove his innocence.

“I will never give up the fight. I believe in him 100 per cent. I will devote the rest of my life to getting Jack out.”

Whomes, now 49, and 68-year-old Steele, have always denied killing Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe.

The men were shot dead at an isolated farm track in Rettendon, near Chelmsford, in December 1995 in what was believed to be a gangland dispute over drugs.

The triple murder has been the focus of three feature films, including the well-known movie Essex Boys.