Convicted murderer in fresh appeal bid

SUFFOLK man Jack Whomes has today been given leave to appeal against his triple life sentence for the horrific gangland execution of three drug barons.

SUFFOLK man Jack Whomes has today been given leave to appeal against his triple life sentence for the horrific gangland execution of three drug barons.

The 43-year-old was convicted of the cold-blooded murders of Craig Rolfe, Pat Tate and Tony Tucker in an isolated Essex farm track in December 1995.

Whomes, along with Michael Steele, 61, was convicted of shooting dead the trio after a dispute over a drugs deal.

But now both cases will be sent to the Court of Appeal after being looked at by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

Today, his mother Pam, of Finningham, near Stowmarket, spoke of her joy at the development, which she described as the "best Christmas present ever".

Speaking moments after breaking the news to her son, she said: "I've always known Jack was innocent.

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"We've waited three years for this case to be reviewed so we can be proved right. I can't explain how I feel.

"Jack's over the moon. We both had a little cry. It's nice because it's normally tears of depression, but it's tears of joy at the moment."

Mrs Whomes said she is certain her son will be released when the appeal court judges hear the case.

She said: "I'm 200 per cent certain he will be released.

"This will be the ninth Christmas he has spent in prison. I did want him home for this one, but it doesn't matter. This is our best present ever."

The convictions of the pair, in January 1998 at London's Old Bailey, followed the one of the longest and expensive trials ever. It lasted more than five months and cost an estimated £1.5million.

The prosecution claimed the three men were shot dead, in a Range Rover in Rettendon, Essex, on 6 December 1995, in a dispute over a smuggled shipment of poor quality cannabis.

The court was told Whomes and Steele - who likened him to the angel of death - fired eight shots at close range at the victims, who sat in waiting in the vehicle.

Whomes and Steele consistently denied their guilty throughout the trial.

Peter Corry was also convicted of conspiracy to import cannabis at the same hearing and sentenced to four-and-a-half years behind bars.

Whomes and Steele were also convicted of conspiracy to import cannabis and given concurrent sentences of eight years' imprisonment.

These convictions will now be looked at again.

Whomes, Steele and Corry were all refused leave to appeal against their convictions in July 1998, and had their applications for leave refused in January 1999.

But the Commission has now studied the case, including new evidence which could affect the credibility of a key prosecution witness, and decided to refer it to the appeal courts.

A spokesman for Criminal Cases Review Commission said: "Obviously we cannot discuss the details of individual cases, but this has been a long, complex and involved review and we are very grateful for the co-operation of Essex, Hertfordshire and North Yorkshire Police throughout this process."

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