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Great Bentley: Essex Boys’ murderer takes case back to court to seek judicial review

PUBLISHED: 13:02 06 February 2013 | UPDATED: 13:02 06 February 2013

Michael Steele

Michael Steele

Archant

ONE of the men convicted of a notorious triple gangland killing is today taking his fight for freedom back to the Royal Courts of Justice.

Michael Steele, of Great Bentley, near Colchester, is one of two men who was found guilty of what has become known as the Essex Boys’ murders.

The 70-year-old is renewing his application for leave to judicially review the Criminal Cases Review Commission’s (CCRC) decision not to refer his case to the Court of Appeal for a second time.

A spokesman for the Royal Courts of Justice said Steele is due to have a hearing before its Administrative Court.

Steele and co-convicted Jack Whomes, of Brockford, Mendlesham, have always denied they were involved in the shootings of Tony Tucker, 38, Pat Tate, 37, and Craig Rolfe, 26.

The trio of drug dealers were found dead in a Range Rover in Rettendon, near Chelmsford, on December 6, 1995.

The underworld killings led to films such as Essex Boys, starring Sean Bean, and Rise of the Footsoldier.

Steele and Whomes were convicted of murder at the Old Bailey in January 1998. Their convictions rested primarily on the evidence of petty criminal-turned-supergrass Darren Nicholls.

The prosecution claimed Steele was behind a series of drug-smuggling runs, one of which led to a row with Tate, Tucker and Rolfe, when a deal turned sour.

Steele and Whomes’s first appeal was turned down in 2004.

The pair were hoping the CCRC would refer the case back to the appeal court last year. However, last February the CCRC declined to do so.

Both men believe new expert mobile phone evidence will prove they were not involved in the murders.

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Oliver Sheppard, 28, of Park Road in Clacton, was sentenced at Chelmsford Crown Court on January 16 after pleading guilty there on January 8.

One man was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure.

Concerns had been raised about safety in the area

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