‘Essex Boys’ killer determined to clear his name

A SUFFOLK man convicted of gunning down three drug dealers in a notorious gangland slaying has pledged he will never give up the fight to prove his innocence.

For more than 14 years Jack Whomes, of Brockford, near Stowmarket, has refused to admit he killed Tony Tucker, 38, Pat Tate, 37, and Craig Rolfe, 26.

The killings – at Rettendon, near Chelmsford, on December 6, 1995 – have become known as the Essex Boys’ murders.

Speaking from Whitemoor Prison in Cambridgeshire, Whomes believes he has new evidence which proves he could not have shot the three men.

Earlier this month the Criminal Cases Review Commission decided not to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal for the second time.

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However, Whomes and co-convicted Michael Steele, of Great Bentley, near Colchester, will make representations to the CCRC by December 8 in a bid to reverse the decision. Whomes, who was arrested in May 1996 at his vehicle recovery yard in Barham, near Ipswich, said: “I am innocent and determined to clear my name. One day the truth will come out.

“I have been in prison just over 14 years and all I want to do is to clear my name, return to my family and start my life over again. That’s what keeps me going.

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“I will never give up the fight and nor will my family. I’m relentless in my pursuit of this.”

Whomes conceded there have been times when his frustration has got the better of him in jail.

The 49-year-old said: “I am institutionalised. One day is much like the rest. That’s how prison makes you.

“There have been many times over the past 14 years when my pillows have been wet through the tears.”

Whomes and Steele were convicted at their Old Bailey trial mainly due to the testimony of criminal-turned-supergrass Darren Nicholls, who claimed to be their getaway driver.

Whomes said: “Mr Nicholls, in many ways, has ruined my life and my family’s life.

“It was his word in the witness box, backed up by telephone evidence. He’s made his bed and he’s in the witness protection programme.

“Mr Nicholls doesn’t bother me. I’m above that. I will never get the time back. I just want to get out of prison and be a law-abiding citizen.

“I am that much more educated, a lot more mature, and have learned a lot about people.

“I have learned so much and have so much ambition.”

Whomes said his new evidence revolves around the Vodafone network not recording data from incoming calls back in 1995.

Whomes’s legal team believe this is highly relevant, particularly in the context of a call made to Tucker’s phone on the night he was killed.

Whomes and Steele, now 67, were convicted of murder in January 1998.

It was claimed Steele was behind a series of drug smuggling runs, one of which led to a row with Tate, Tucker and Rolfe over poor-quality cannabis.

Whomes and Steele’s first appeal failed in 2006.

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