I first took an interest in miscarriages of justice back in the sixties after I read Ludovic Kennedy's Masterpiece ' 10 Rillington Place' which was about the Christie/ Evans murders. The book really took me over – superbly researched – a bit heavy going at times but you could soon see by the statements and circumstances that Evans was a victim of an appalling miscarriage of justice.
I think the first thing for anyone interested in looking at why people are wrongly convicted is to look at the basic concept and ground rules of the legal system . 'Innocent until proven guilty' people say;' the law would rather see six guilty people acquitted than one innocent person convicted', are well known expressions that I have heard many times when I have spoken about Jeremy's case to third parties. Inevitably the uninitiated – and I hate to bring politics into this as we are after all in the mother of all democracies – but those who vote Tory and particularly the right wingers almost without exception dismiss the case out of had by using the following well worn cliches:' He's as guilty as hell';' he had a fair trial' and 'he must have had something to do with it'. 'People like him should be hanged, shot, locked up with the key thrown away, and THEN put on trial.
You will appreciate dear reader that when I hear comments such as those I tend not to react. Seriously though folks,I do a bit, and have developed a subtle, ineluctable ' put down 'which proceeds along the following basis: I had a lady acquaintance who started talking about the case quite by chance one day and she opined vociferously that Jeremy was without question guilty as she felt he was arrogant; far too good looking; a privately educated spoilt brat; and worst of all a womanising playboy and that in her mind was enough to convict.
My reaction was to say that anything she asked me about the case I would be able to answer calmly and systematically with documented evidence conclusively showing his innocence. Furthermore I would be able to base all this through comprehensive study of the case; reading the evidence; studying the Judge's summing up, and not one single bit of me would base my decision on anything but the facts. That, I said is the difference between you and me. Now madam, that is what I am basing my opinion on – What are you basing yours on/---- Silence ----- Well then let me answer my own question – Yours is based on good old fashioned prejudice and nothing else. Game, set and match !!
I wrote in the second paragraph that it was important to understand how the legal system, particularly in very serious cases actually works. It should be about establishing the truth so that the guilty are convicted and the innocent acquitted, which is axiomatic and apposite to natural justice. The adversarial method does achieve this in the most part but it often is woefully inaccurate as in Jeremy's case, and it seems to me that the police, in many cases under extreme pressure for a positive result tend to ignore important evidence which could certainly acquit their suspect. The CPS with massive financial resources also want a conviction – and the defence? Well they often become second class citizens – often denied access to evidence with their client locked away on remand; the defence inevitably have a tremendous battle on their hands. The trial under that system becomes what I can best describe as a layman – and this sounds like a cliché, but an accurate one - a playing field that is not level but balanced in favour of the Crown. It is like a boxing match- a football match – with the judge as the referee and the two teams battling out the play on the field or in the ring.
The truth comes out in most cases but the ethics often seem wanting as to win the case is of paramount importance. The winner therefore is the side with the better presentation – who with the evidence supplied can convince the jury of the guilt of the accused, irrespective of the real truth.
I have taken a great interest in Jeremy's case for about the last four years, and needless to say I know he is innocent. I have
Where the defence made a tactical error in my view in his trial was that they did not make anywhere near enough emphasis on Sheila's tragic illness. More should have been said about her paranoid schizophrenia . Sheila's own psychiatrist did give evidence in the trial and one other independent psychiatrist also – but as the defence did not have access to her full medical records either from her GP or psychiatrist so they could not question either of them about this. The defence were therefore somewhat stymied by this. Dr Ferguson her psychiatrist from St. Andrew's Hospital Northampton did give evidence and told the jury under cross examination that she had told him that she was afraid she would kill her children. Freddie Emami, Sheila's ex boyfriend gave a statement to the police and stated that Sheila had terrible outbursts of temper, had been violent to him and that he sometimes was afraid of her and 'feared for his life.' My point here is he SHOULD have been permitted to explain all this to the jury but was never called to give evidence – WHY?
The compelling evidence that is well known to all of us involved with the campaign to release Jeremy as a free and innocent man is well documented. I thought though that it would be pertinent to others not quite so familiar to the case as we are, to know in a truncated form the power of what we know – and what was not presented in court owing in the large part to withheld evidence and documentation from the Essex Police.
Justice Drake's statement at the beginning of the trial that there could only have been one murderer, Jeremy or Sheila and no one else was an unusual comment to make but within the rules. But his summing up was without question completely incorrect as regards to the sound moderator, and he clearly misdirected the jury. The Crown's case that Sheila could not have been the murderer as her arm was not long enough to reach the trigger with the moderator attached when it was alleged that she took her own life has since been completely discredited, and tests have been made since completely disproving this; even though Dr Vanezis the pathologist who examined all the bodies confirmed that she could have reached the gun trigger with the moderator attached, and could have committed suicide this way.
The point about the above is that when Sheila died she had two bullet wounds to her neck. Both were contact wounds with the end of the rifle pressed up against her neck underneath her chin. The first bullet fragmented leaving her wounded but according to the pathologist she could have walked about. The second shot she fired with her pointing the rifle upwards under her chin went straight into her brain and killed her instantly. This was without the sound moderator being fitted.
In addition the microscopic fleck of blood found in the moderator baffle plates which according to forensic tests was Sheila' s and not other wise has been totally discredited. The Crown stated that if the blood was Sheila's how could she have shot the family; killed herself; unscrewed the silencer from the gun; placed it back in its box and put this in the gun cupboard where it was found five weeks later. On that basis she could not have been the murderer, therefore it was Jeremy who killed everyone and then stage managed the scene to make it look as if Sheila was the culprit. It now transpires that the AK enzyme found in the blood could have come from a rabbit, or a chicken. Jeremy had been out the night before with the Anshutz rifle – the murder weapon - shooting rabbits as farmers' sons do on arable farms, owing to the extensive damage they do to crops. But the judge's summing up contained the powerful statements which I will quote verbatim.' It is inconceivable that Sheila killed the family, and then took her own life, as her arm was not long enough to reach the trigger' and ' members of the jury, it is a fact the sound moderator was on the gun when it was fired and on that fact alone you can convict Jeremy.' There was no moderator on the gun when the bodies were found.
I was very impressed by Peter Sutherst the photographic forensic expert and very unimpressed by the withholding for some nineteen years of the photographs by the Essex Police taken on the morning of the murders. The suppression of this vital evidence would have cleared Jeremy had it been shown to the court. Peter's evidence after the trial was damming that the alleged struggle between Nevill Bamber and Jeremy with the gun plus sound moderator which allegedly caused scratch marks on the red paint on the kitchen fire surround as a result of the tussle were wholly untrue. There were no scratch marks on the red paint on the scene of crime photographs despite the fact that these were enlarged to life size and examined with a magnifying glass; and as he said if you remove the scratch marks from the case, because they were not there, you must remove the silencer from the evidence as well, which means that a huge chunk of the Crown's case now collapses. We also know that the scratch marks on the red paint, which were not there in the police photographs taken on the morning of the tragedy, were placed there some five weeks later. I am not going to name names but there were only three people present when the next set of of photographs were taken and I am going to leave it at that.
The lack of co operation by the Essex Police has been mind boggling and withheld information vital to the defence was never shown – so much for a fair trial.
In short form it is as follows:
Nevill's phone call to the police, the records of which we now have – stating that ' my daughter has gone berserk and has got hold of one of my guns' was withheld by the police. Yet we know that this resulted in a police car CAO7 being despatched to White House farm at 3.35 am – this was followed by a phone call to the police from Jeremy logged at 3.36am saying that he had received a call from his father asking for urgent help as his sister had got hold of the gun. Another police car CA05 was despatched as a result of this call and Jeremy was asked by the police to drive to the farm and they would meet him outside – but as you can see - Jeremy's call was logged by the police one minute AFTER the car responding to Nevill's call was despatched. Two police cars responding to two calls. It could not be clearer. Yet at the trial Nevill's phone call was dismissed by the Crown as untrue.
The ultimate betrayal of Jeremy's innocence by the Essex police came in my view in 2004, some nineteen years after the murders when the defence team received, a thirty eight page document showing all the rolling police logs by the firearms team who had surrounded White House Farm. Remember that Jeremy had been standing outside the farm with the police since 3.46 am.
At 5.25am and I quote the log – 'police are in conversation with a person from inside the farm'. Analyse the exact wording dear reader – it means that more than one person is speaking, one asking questions the other answering. Now do you not think that the jury should have been shown the logs and left to deliberate the accuracy thereof and the officer who wrote the logs placed under cross examination by the defence. The whole case would have collapsed completely had that been shown at the trial. How could Jeremy be charged and convicted with murdering his entire family between 12.00 and 3.00 am when one of the firearms' team were in conversation with one of his victims at 5.25am.,when he had been standing outside with the police since 3.46 am? It is the logic of the madhouse – yet this evidence was deliberately withheld by the police in their quest to get Jeremy convicted. It is utterly appalling.
It actually gets worse. If on the other hand the person with whom the firearms team were conversing was not Sheila but a 'mystery third party murderer ' the judge's direction to the jury at the commencement of the trial falls flat on its face. He directed to the jury, remember, that there could only have been one murderer – Jeremy or Sheila and no one else.
Finally the expert evidence of Drs Caruso and Dr Fowler, plus Philip Boyce a ballistics expert is completely convincing. They have carried out extensive tests and they have all concluded that there was no sound moderator on the gun when it was used in the murder and that the entry wounds on the deceased are entirely consistent with the gun being fired without a moderator fitted and not otherwise. Remember the judge's summing up - ' it is a fact that the moderator was fitted to the gun and you can convict Jeremy Bamber on that evidence alone'.
And let me add this. Police photographs of Sheila's body withheld for nineteen years and not seen by the defence until 2004 show wet blood running from her wounds, no skin discolouration and no evidence of livor mortis. The police photographer took these at 10:20 am and that places her time of death at about 7.30 am when the police broke down the back door of the farm.
Jeremy, we all know you are innocent and as I said just be a little patient as surely the Crown will not be able to offer any counter evidence against this lot, at the next appeal. As you know the CCRC have a lot to answer for as do the Essex Police and I cannot wait to buy you that cool pint of frothy bitter at my local when you are released as a free and innocent man as we all know you are.