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Delay for appeal?

PUBLISHED: 22:16 07 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 March 2010

THE brother of a Suffolk man jailed for the Range Rover murders of three drug barons has dismissed reports it could be 18 months before the case is heard in the appeal court.

THE brother of a Suffolk man jailed for the Range Rover murders of three drug barons has dismissed reports it could be 18 months before the case is heard in the appeal court.

John Whomes' brother Jack, formerly of Brockford, near Stowmarket, along with Michael Steele, from Aingers Green, Great Bentley, in Essex, were jailed for life with a minimum of 15 years to be served, at the Old Bailey in January 1998 for the murder of gangsters Pate Tate, Tony Tucker and Craig Rolfe.

The trio were blasted to death as they sat in a Range Rover in Waterhouse Lane, Rettendon, near Chelmsford, in December 1995.

The case of Whomes and Steele is currently being looked at by the Criminal Cases Review Commission which investigates suspected miscarriages of justice.

John Whomes, of Gislingham, near Eye, said: "It will be referred back this year, I am confident of that and before the end of the year we will be back in that court."

He added: "This case has been a rumbling volcano now it's a leaking one. When our case gets back to the Court of Appeal it will affect the judicial system, the Criminal Cases Review Commission and Essex Police, and will bring so many curtains down."

The shooting of the three drug barons was one of the most ruthless killings in modern British criminal history.

David Brittin, Criminal Cases Review Commission spokesman, said a case worker was assigned to the case in January but to suggest that it would 18 months before the case would be back in court was "pure conjecture".

He added: "We never make any estimates on how long cases will take to review. It's impossible to say how long it will take because we do not put time limits on these things."

He added a commission committee will discuss the matter to see if it should go back to the Court of Appeal only after all avenues about the case had been looked at.

John Whomes has gone to great lengths to publicise his brother's innocence and in 2000 he chained himself to a gantry above the M25 at Thurrock in Essex for four hours and unfurled banners protesting his elder brother's innocence.

He said his brother who is a mechanic by trade was learning computer skills and was developing a skill for technical drawing and carpentry.

Whomes and Steele, who have maintained their innocence, were convicted largely on the evidence of police supergrass Darren Nicholls who has since been given a new identity.

Nicholls claimed he picked up Whomes and Steele at the end of the country lane minutes after Tate, 37, from Basildon, 38-year-old Tucker, from Fobbing, and Rolfe, 26, from Chafford Hundred, were killed.


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