'Essex boys' murders new evidence claim

FRESH evidence which allegedly casts doubt on the guilt of two men serving life sentences for the notorious “Essex Boys” murders will be presented to the Criminal Cases Review Commission today.

FRESH evidence which allegedly casts doubt on the guilt of two men serving life sentences for the notorious “Essex Boys” murders will be presented to the Criminal Cases Review Commission today.

Michael Steele, 64, of Great Bentley, Essex, and Jack Whomes, 46, of Brockford, near Mendlesham, were jailed for killing Patrick Tate, Anthony Tucker and Craig Rolfe in 1998. They were found dead in a Range Rover on an isolated farm track in Rettendon, near Chelmsford.

The two men have always protested their innocence and the CCRC is currently re-examining the convictions of both men which could lead to a second hearing at the Court of Appeal.

Steele's solicitor, Ipswich-based Chris Bowen, will present new evidence to the CCRC today which he claims casts doubt on the evidence of the prosecution's main witness, “supergrass” Darren Nicholls.


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During the trial, Nicholls told the jury that he picked up Whomes and Steele from Workhouse Lane, Rettendon just after 7pm on December 6, 1995.

He claimed they bragged about having just committed the murders and said that Whomes was wearing surgical gloves which were covered in blood.

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But Mr Bowen claims evidence from the new witness indicates that the exact same blue Range Rover containing three men was seen driving around the vicinity of Rettendon several hours after 7pm on the night of the murder.

Mr Bowen said: “I believe this evidence on its own indicates that the time of death intimated to the jury at the trial could not possibly have been correct. This in itself would completely demolish the prosecution's case.”

During the trial an independent witness said that six gunshots were heard close to Rettendon at about midnight. Mr Bowen says that the new evidence presented today supports the theory that the time of murder was much later.

He added: “We say unused material in this case even prior to trial indicated that the murders had in fact taken place in the early hours of Thursday December 7.”

Jack Whomes' brother John, who lives in Gislingham, near Eye, said he was delighted with the new evidence.

“It is tremendous news. The family believes the murders happened later because someone heard the gunshots after midnight. I am 120% sure that my brother will be coming out.”

The Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by the pair in February 2006.

A CCRC spokesman said she was unable to comment on details of the investigation.

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