Triple murder man awaits appeal

After spending his seventh Christmas in prison, a former Ipswich docker is hoping it will be his last inside as he waits to hear if he can appeal against his conviction for a gruesome triple murder.

By Tracey Sparling

After spending his seventh Christmas in prison, a former Ipswich docker is hoping it will be his last inside as he waits to hear if he can appeal against his conviction for a gruesome triple murder.

His anguished family who live in the Stowmarket area today spoke of their support today - and their hope for the future.

Ex-Suffolk man Jack Whomes is hoping questions over the way Essex police dealt with the triple shooting of three Essex drug dealers will arise as the evidence of a key prosecution witness is now being called into doubt.


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On a freezing December night in Rettenden, Essex in 1995, the blood-spattered corpses of three drug dealers Pat Tate, Tony Tucker and Craig Rolfe, were discovered in a Range Rover. Each had been shot twice in the head.

Detectives were met with a wall of silence until petty criminal Darren Nicholls agreed to talk, and the prosecution's case hinged on his words after he claimed to have been the 'getaway driver' for Whomes and Michael Steele.

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Docks mechanic Whomes and Steele were jailed for life in 1998 after a marathon five-month trial.

Throughout the trial, Whomes and Steele proclaimed their innocence. Until his arrest Whomes' only brush with the law was a conviction for 'car ringing' in 1993.

But an earlier attempt to appeal against the murder conviction was dismissed.

Now new evidence is being considered and the Criminal Cases Review Commission's decision on whether an appeal should be allowed is expected in the early part of the year.

A spokesman for the CCRC said today: "A decision is unlikely before Easter."

John Whomes has led the campaign to prove his brother's innocence, including protesting on a boat on the River Orwell, and chaining himself to the parapet of a bridge over the M25.

Their mum Pam, from Finningham, said today: "The CCRC has been reviewing the case for over a year, and we expect to hear its decision any day now. Jack calls them every fortnight to check, and he is full of optimism.

"We've all got our fingers crossed as we've always believed he is innocent, and not just the family but lots of other people too. I've had a lot of calls from supporters since his case hit the headlines again."

She said Jack, 41, has a wife Gail, a teenage son Jack and daughter Lucy who are all desperate to hear if he has a chance of release.

She added: "He phoned home every day to find out how they are."

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