Essex Boys’ murder campaigners close to new appeal

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to overturn the conviction of a Suffolk man jailed for the infamous execution of three drug dealers believe they are close to being granted a new appeal.

Jack Whomes, of Brockford, near Mendlesham, has always denied the gangland slaying of Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe. The trio were gunned down on an isolated farm track at Rettendon, near Chelmsford, in December 1995.

On the eve of another feature film being released about their murders, Whomes’ brother, John, said he is optimistic the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) will refer the case back to the Court of Appeal for a second time.

The 48-year-old from Rickinghall said: “The CCRC is actively carrying out another full investigation. The outcome of this will be revealed shortly. We are so near to being referred back to the Court of Appeal. In my opinion we have got everything we need to go back.

“The film coming out keeps this alive. It keeps it in the public eye, so people are very, very interested in my brother’s case.

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“There have been a few books written and a few films made. There’s been quite a few quid made for certain people. Everyone is entitled to do what they want to do.

“All these films and books are based on a true story and we believe the true story has yet to come out.

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“I believe if the truth comes out, Jack’s out.”

Supporters of Jack Whomes, 49, and his co-convicted, Michael Steele, 68, of Great Bentley, Essex, have been battling for their freedom since they were jailed for life in January 1998.

Tucker, 38, Tate, 37, and Rolfe, 26, were lured to their death in what was believed to be a gangland dispute over drugs.

The trio were found in their Range Rover after being blasted to death by a shotgun.

The pivotal evidence in the case against Jack Whomes and Steele was given by supergrass Darren Nicholls. He implicated the pair, testifying that Steele was behind a series of drug smuggling runs from the continent in 1995.

Nicholls, who is in witness protection, claimed he was the killers’ getaway driver when he picked up Jack Whomes and Steele from Rettendon, on December 6, 1995.

Both men are serving three life sentences for murder. They were also convicted of conspiring to import cannabis. Their first appeal was turned down in February 2006.

The new film, Bonded By Blood, goes on general release tomorrow. It is adapted from a book by the same name by Bernard O’Mahoney, an associate of Tucker, Tate and Rolfe.

It follows two other films about the Rettendon murders, Essex Boys and The Rise of the Footsoldier.

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