New evidence in Essex boys murder

AN Ipswich-based solicitor representing one of the men convicted of the gangland slaying, today said he has new evidence which he believes could clear his client.

AN Ipswich-based solicitor representing one of the men convicted of the gangland slaying, today said he has new evidence which he believes could clear his client.

Christopher Bowen travelled to the Criminal Cases Review Commission in Birmingham to present representations he believes will show the three murders were carried out later than was alleged at Michael Steele's trial.

Mr Bowen said: “The Criminal Cases Review Commission has now been asked to examine in the most detailed fashion imaginable, documentation relevant to the centre of this investigation into the Rettendon murders, particularly the evidence of the principle witness Darren Nicholls.

“In the light of fresh evidence, Michael Steele and I now believe that the integrity of this investigation can be shown to be compromised.”


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Mr Bowen said he believed the evidence will cast doubt on the guilt of Steele, 64, of Great Bentley, Essex and his co-convicted Jack Whomes, 46, of Brockford - the man said to have carried out the executions.

The pair were given life sentences for killing Patrick Tate, Anthony Tucker and Craig Rolfe in what has become known as the Essex Boys' murders. The trio were found dead in a Range Rover on an isolated farm track in Rettendon, near Chelmsford.

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Steele and Whomes have always protested their innocence and the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is currently re-examining their convictions, which could lead to a second hearing at the Court of Appeal.

Mr Bowen said during the trial, 'supergrass' Darren Nicholls told the jury that he picked up Whomes and Steele from Workhouse Lane, Rettendon just after 7pm on December 6, 1995.

However, Mr Bowen said evidence from a new witness indicates that the same blue Range Rover containing three men was seen driving around the vicinity of Rettendon several hours after 7pm on the night of the murder.

During the trial an independent witness said that six gunshots were heard close to Rettendon around midnight. Mr Bowen said the new evidence presented today supports the theory that the time of murder was much later.

Whomes' brother John, who lives in Gislingham, near Eye, said he was delighted with the new evidence: “It is tremendous news.”

The Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by the pair in February 2006.

A CCRC spokesman said she was unable to comment on details of the investigation.

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