'Essex boys' conviction examined again

ExclusiveA MAN jailed for the notorious 'Essex boys' murders is to have his conviction re-examined for a second time in an unusual move by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the EADT can reveal.

By Danielle Nuttall


A MAN jailed for the notorious 'Essex boys' murders is to have his conviction re-examined for a second time in an unusual move by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the EADT can reveal.

Jack Whomes, 46, from Suffolk, is serving a life sentence alongside Michael Steele, 63, for the 1995 murders of Patrick Tate, Anthony Tucker and Craig Rolfe.

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The victims were found dead in a Range Rover on an isolated farm track in Rettendon, near Chelmsford.

Both men had their case referred back to the Court of Appeal in March last year by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) after fresh evidence emerged.

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But the pair lost their case after judges upheld the convictions.

It has now emerged the CCRC is to review Whomes' conviction for a second time as a result of further new evidence.

It comes as a new gangster film featuring the Rettendon murders and both Whomes' and Steele's names premiered in London.

A spokeswoman for the CCRC said last night: “He (Whomes) has recently made a fresh application to us and we are looking at his case again.

“If an applicant applies to us we will look to see if there is anything new that they are raising. We are looking for new evidence or new legal argument.”

The spokeswoman said the CCRC did receive reapplications but said it was more unusual to review a case that had already been referred to the Court of Appeal.

She said an application had not yet been received on behalf of Steele and said it was impossible to say how long it would take for a decision to be made on whether the case should be referred back to the Court of Appeal.

The CCRC's renewed involvement in the case has provided new hope for the family of Whomes, of Brockford, near Mendlesham.

Whomes' brother, John, said last night: “We are delighted. It's very rare to go back to the CCRC after appeal.

“We have new hope. The evidence we have is more than explosive. It will rip the whole case open again.

“We expect a referral before Christmas. I'm 110% confident he's going to walk free.”

Mr Whomes also spoke of his anger that the producers of a new film, Rise of the Foot Soldier, which premiered in London last night, had gone against his wishes not to name his brother and Steele.

The film, being distributed by Optimum Releasing, has been written and directed by Julian Gilbey and follows the rise of Carlton Leach from football violence to becoming a member of a notorious gang of criminals in London and Essex in the late 1980s.

Mr Whomes said the film features an exact replica of the Rettendon murder scene and refers to his brother and Steele, of Great Bentley, by name.

“I asked one of the producers to take my brother's name out of it because we are still protesting my brother's innocence. I didn't want anything to hinder the CCRC investigation but they have said no.

“They said nothing (legal proceedings) is pending. But within the last three weeks, the CCRC have taken my brother's case back under investigation.

“The film is due to be shown on Friday and there is no way I can stop it.”

Optimum Releasing was contacted last night but no one was available to comment.

During the original trial, Steele and Whomes, along with Peter Corry, of Clacton, were also found guilty of conspiracy to import cannabis.

The case was referred back to the Court of Appeal last year after it emerged the central prosecution witness in the trial - supergrass Darren Nicholls - sold his story to a publisher more than a year before giving evidence against the pair in court.

Lawyers representing the men argued if the jury had known about the media deal, they would have come to a different verdict.

After their appeal was rejected, Steele's solicitor took the case to the European Court of Human Rights and is awaiting its decision.

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