Gangland killers lose appeal

Two men serving life for a triple gangland killing ten years ago failed in renewed appeals against their murder convictions today.Michael Steele, 62, of Great Bently, Essex, and Jack Whomes, 44, of Brockford, Suffolk, were jailed for the 1995 murders of Patrick Tate, Anthony Tucker and Craig Rolfe.

Two men serving life for a triple gangland killing ten years ago failed in renewed appeals against their murder convictions today.

Michael Steele, 62, of Great Bently, Essex, and Jack Whomes, 44, of Brockford, Suffolk, were jailed for the 1995 murders of Patrick Tate, Anthony Tucker and Craig Rolfe.

The story of the killings became known as the "Essex Boys" case after it inspired a film of that name starring Sean Bean.

Defence lawyers called fresh evidence in the Court of Appeal showing that a crucial witness at the men's 1998 Old Bailey trial, Darren Nicholls, had entered into media arrangements under which he was to be paid for his story and that he had a financial incentive in their being found guilty.


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But three appeal judges in London rejected argument that the jury, if it had known of "supergrass' Nicholls's media contacts, might well have reached a different verdict.

The prosecution case was that the three victims were shot dead in a Range Rover on an isolated farm track at Rettendon, Essex, in December 1995 in a gangland dispute over drugs.

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Steele and Whomes, along with Peter Corry, of Clacton, Essex, were also found guilty of conspiracy to import cannabis.

Appeal by the three against the drugs convictions were also dismissed today.

Initial appeals by the three had been rejected some years ago, but the cases were referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates alleged miscarriages of justice.

Full story, see Thursday's EADT.

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