Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 19°C

min temp: 9°C

Search

Murder pair could have appeals heard

PUBLISHED: 10:52 22 September 2001 | UPDATED: 10:33 03 March 2010

TWO men serving life sentences for the gangland murders of three Essex drug barons have moved a step closer to clearing their name.

Jack Whomes, from Brockford, near Stowmarket, and Michael Steele, from Aingers Green, Great Bentley, near Colchester, were jointly convicted in January 1998 of killing Pat Tate, Tony Tucker and Craig Rolfe.

TWO men serving life sentences for the gangland murders of three Essex drug barons have moved a step closer to clearing their name.

Jack Whomes, from Brockford, near Stowmarket, and Michael Steele, from Aingers Green, Great Bentley, near Colchester, were jointly convicted in January 1998 of killing Pat Tate, Tony Tucker and Craig Rolfe.

The trio were found shot dead in a Range Rover on an isolated farm track at Rettendon near Chelmsford in December 1995.

Both Whomes and Steele have always denied having anything to do with the murders and now hope their case could come before appeal court judges in the coming months.

The pair have been refused leave to appeal twice but Steele's case is now before the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), which has the power to refer it back to the Court of Appeal, and an application from Whomes will be made in due course.

The commission which reviews the convictions of people who believe they have either been wrongly found guilty of a criminal offence, or wrongly sentenced, is to look at the case.

Richard Hill, solicitor for both men, said: "Our position is that in essence we are confident that the convictions will, if the commission undertake the exercises properly, be referred back to the Court of Appeal, because the convictions are unsafe in the cases of both parties.

"The Criminal Cases Review Commission will appoint a case worker within the next three to four weeks, that is what I have been told.

"The decision in these cases can often be up to six months. What we want is for it to be referred back to the court of appeal immediately. We will be pressing for an answer back by Christmas."

Mr Hill said there was a "multitude of reasons" for a referral back to the appeal court in the light of new additional evidence including that involving the main prosecution witness - former Essex police supergrass Darren Nicholls.

John Whomes, who has campaigned to prove his brother's innocence, said: "To get to this stage is a big step. We will get a case worker in the next four weeks and we could end up with a referral back to the Court of Appeal by Christmas - and be back in the appeal courts in April next year."

He said his brother and Steele were obviously both pleased with the latest developments.

A CCRC spokeswoman said every application is assessed on its own merits and while some take five days to process others are still being looked at after more than four years.

"Michael Steele's case will be allocated a case worker shortly, we have the material we need to start a review," she said.

An Essex police spokeswoman said: "We have not been officially notified by the commission and therefore we cannot comment at this stage."

The police are currently re-investigating the case of Jeremy Bamber - convicted in 1986 of murdering five members of his family at their home in Tolleshunt D'Arcy - six months after it was referred back to the court of appeal by the CCRC.

The Commission is an independent body responsible for investigating suspected miscarriages of criminal justice and was established in January 1997. It can seek further information relating to a case and carry out its own investigations, or arrange for others to do so.

Once the investigations have been completed to the Commission's satisfaction, it decides whether or not to refer the case to the appropriate appeal court.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Ipswich Star

Hot Jobs

Show Job Lists