Jeremy Bamber case
On 7th August 1985, at White House Farm, Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex, five members of one family were shot dead. They were 61-year-old farmer, Nevill Bamber; his wife, June; their daughter, Sheila Caffell; and Sheila’s six-year-old twins, Nicholas and Daniel.

June and Nevill had married in 1949 and, finding themselves unable to have children of their own, adopted a baby through the Church of England Children’s Society. June suffered depression following Sheila’s arrival in 1957 and was admitted to St Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton, where she was treated with electroshock therapy. They then adopted another baby, Jeremy, in 1961.

Jeremy describes it as a happy childhood, though he might be painting a rosier picture with hindsight. From other accounts it seems that June was excessively religious and could be harshly critical of anyone who did not accord with her rigid moral standards.

Sheila embarked on a modelling career in London and became pregnant out of wedlock, with June calling her “the Devil’s child” and persuading her to have an abortion. She later married Colin Caffell and gave birth to twin boys, but the marriage didn’t last and they were divorced in 1982, sharing custody of the two children. Sheila also had psychological problems; and social workers were becoming concerned about her ability to care for the children, describing her as forgetful and disorganised, nervous and lacking in self-confidence.

Jeremy seems to have had a more stable personality, escaping the troubled family situation by travelling to Australia and New Zealand. It was not until his early twenties that he settled down to work full-time on the farm, though living in a tied cottage some three miles away. He had a girlfriend, Julie, who often stayed overnight, and it is said that June called her a ‘harlot’ to her face, because they were sleeping together.

In 1983, one of the twins sustained a head injury after falling out of a taxi, and Sheila blamed herself, saying it was her mother’s “religious rantings” that were making her unable to concentrate properly. She was referred to St Andrews Mental Health Hospital in Northampton, where Dr Hugh Ferguson diagnosed paranoid schizophrenia.

“I found that Sheila had bizarre delusions about possession by the Devil, and complex ideas about having sex with her twin sons. She thought the sons would seduce her, and saw evil in both of them. In particular, she thought Nicholas was a woman hater and potential murderer. These feelings expressed were clear symptoms of schizophrenia.

“Her delusional ideas on admission included her boyfriend being the Devil: there was a very religious basis to her delusional thinking. Her psychotic symptoms receded briefly on medication. But when this was reduced, she again flared up into paranoid interpretations of the nursing staff, becoming at times quite hostile. She believed that she was being monitored and televised, and that there was an attempt by the Devil to take away her godliness, with many people around her being seen to be involved in the conspiracy.”

It can be seen here that the standard psychiatric treatment is simply to diagnose an ‘illness’ and administer brain-shrinking drugs, rather than attempt any understanding of the patient’s strange ideas and mental confusion. If Sheila had grown up with an obsessively religious mother, who was harshly critical of her extramarital sex and had on occasions actually told her she was the Devil’s child, then the delusions start to make a little sense. There is a lot of rubbish talked about schizophrenia being some kind of biochemical genetic disorder, when the sad truth is that it’s invariably caused by family environment and the skewed communication styles that can invalidate a person’s sense of self.

June and Nevill were pillars of their small community, June being a church warden, and Nevill a local magistrate, and so they tended to play down their daughter’s ‘breakdown’ to avoid the social stigma. They were willing to pay for her treatment, but seem to have had little understanding of her mental state, and she would rapidly deteriorate after visiting them. One of Sheila’s close friends said that she had a deep dislike for her mother and was even worse after returning from visits to the farm, because of her mother preaching to her about her lifestyle. June did not approve of Sheila’s ‘immoral behaviour’ and said she should remember God.

This same friend described a psychotic episode where Sheila felt the phone was being bugged. She was raving like someone possessed, hitting herself and beating the wall with her fists, and talking about God and the Devil.

Dr Ferguson later admitted that Sheila was afraid she would murder her children; but he was bound by patient confidentiality at the time, and so her parents would have been unaware of the risk that she posed. It was clearly very dangerous for someone in this state of psychosis to be in a farmhouse with guns, but Nevill seems to have been quite casual about where he left them, and there were guns lying around all over the place.

Sheila was readmitted to St Andrew’s Hospital in March 1985 and put on Haloperidol, but was still having psychotic ideas following her discharge. She believed she had been given the task of eradicating the world of evil.

The antipsychotic medications that are used to control schizophrenic ‘symptoms’ work by interfering with the natural balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, thereby blocking the normal transmission of messages to the frontal lobes. They don’t address the actual problems, but simply disable the patient’s brain function, so that the thought processes are flattened and she/he becomes more manageable, whilst the cost to the patient can be horrible side-effects such as inner restlessness and depression.

Slow-release Haloperidol was given by monthly injection, together with Anafranil and Procyclidine. Sheila complained to her GP that she was unable to sleep, and it was agreed that the Haloperidol dose could be reduced. This ought to have been done in small increments, to allow her brain to adjust to the new state of chemical imbalance; but her next injection, on 11th July, was suddenly reduced by half, from 200mg to 100mg. This was clearly insufficient to rid her of her delusions, and the sudden change in levels might even have caused a rebound effect. Moreover, she had been smoking cannabis, and was menstruating at the time of the tragedy.

Colin Caffell had driven Sheila and the boys down to White House Farm for what should have been a week’s holiday. He said she seemed rather vacant, staring blankly out of the window, whilst the boys were fretful about the visit, as they didn’t like the way Granny Bamber made them pray with her so often.

On 6th August, the eve of the terrible tragedy, Jeremy Bamber had been working in the fields all day. On returning to the farmhouse, he picked up the Anschutz rifle to shoot some rabbits he'd spotted in the yard; but there was now no sign of them, so he came back in and casually laid the gun on the kitchen settle. He recalls that the atmosphere at supper was rather strained, with Sheila staring vacantly as their parents discussed the possibility of the twins being fostered until she was well enough to cope. Although she didn't appear to be reacting, the suggestion of having her children taken away from her may well have been the trigger for another psychotic episode.

Jeremy left the farm around 9.30pm, driving the three miles to his cottage at Goldhanger, where he watched television and then went to bed. Some time after 3am, he was woken by the telephone ringing. It was his father saying that Sheila had gone berserk and had the gun. But the call was abruptly terminated before he could ascertain whether or not the police had been summoned, and his attempts to ring back were met with the engaged tone. So perhaps Nevill was calling the police at the very moment?

Jeremy wasn’t overly alarmed at first, as there had been incidents with Sheila in the past, which they had been able to resolve without too much fuss. He didn’t want to escalate the situation by making an inappropriate 999 call and having his sister further upset by police sirens and flashing lights. But after finding he still couldn’t get back to his father, he phoned the local police station.

Police telephone logs show that they had indeed received a 999 call from Nevill Bamber at 3.26am and had dispatched a police car at 3.35am. Another log shows that Jeremy’s call was received by a different officer, at 3.36am, and a second car dispatched.

Jeremy was advised to drive out to the farm, where he met up with Sgt Bews and PC Myall, who questioned him as to Sheila’s mental state and what firearms were in the house. For safety reasons, Bews was reluctant to go to the door when there was the possibility of being met by “a mad woman with a gun”. The three of them crept around the perimeter, and Myall suddenly pointed to an upstairs window, where they thought they could see someone moving in the main bedroom. They ducked behind a hedge, and Bews radioed the information room to request armed assistance.

Jeremy was sent back from the scene and spent the next few hours sitting in a police car, wondering why nothing seemed to be happening and the police weren’t entering the house. By now, there were a number of police units, and three or four ambulances on standby, for what appeared to be a siege situation. A police log at 5.25am states that the tactical firearms unit was “in conversation with someone from inside the farm”.

The team didn’t go in until around 7.30am, when they broke down the kitchen door and discovered Nevill slumped dead by the Aga. On hearing movement upstairs, they called to Sheila to make herself known and began exploring the rest of the house, eventually discovering four more bodies in the bedrooms. The twins had been shot in their beds as they slept, whilst June was in the doorway of the main bedroom. All had been shot multiple times at close range.

Sheila’s body lay on the other side of the main bedroom with the .22 Anschutz rifle, blood still running from her wounds, and a blood-stained bible by her side. The pages were open at Psalm 51, which, according to theologian, Dr Gillingham, of Worcester College, Oxford, is full of the fear of God’s punishment, the need for penitence, and the need to make some extraordinary offering of contrition to make amends.

“Save me from blood guiltiness, O God.... My heart is sore pained within me: and the terrors of death are fallen upon me.” Sheila’s bed had not been slept in, which suggests that she may have been sitting up reading the bible before making her sacrifice. There was also a handwritten note inside the bible, entitled ‘Love One Another’, which is an extract from John 13:34.

The inquest ruled that Sheila Caffell had killed her parents and sons and then committed suicide. She had two gunshot wounds to the neck, but the first would not have killed her instantly, thus allowing her to shoot herself a second time. This would tally with police reports of having initially discovered two bodies in the kitchen, one male and one female, when later reports confirmed only one body in the kitchen (Nevill Bamber) and the remaining bodies upstairs. It is possible that Sheila was still alive when they first discovered her in the kitchen, and that they failed to notice this. She could then have gone upstairs and delivered the fatal shot whilst the officers were searching the other rooms, as there were three staircases in the house. But, however it happened, the final result was four bodies upstairs and one in the kitchen, all with multiple gunshot wounds.

Jeremy received no counselling or victim support, and it must have seemed a surreal situation, suddenly losing his entire family and overnight becoming ‘the boss’ of a large estate. He also had to cope with the constant hounding of the press, as well as visits from detectives wanting to know further details, and he was tending to rely on alcohol and Valium, together with the support of his girlfriends and a homosexual friend called Brett.

All cameras were upon Jeremy as he attended the funeral service with his then-girlfriend, Julie Mugford. There has been no explanation for it, but his grief appeared to be acted, and many have commented on this. Perhaps, with his boarding-school education, he found it hard to show his real emotions in public, yet felt that some kind of display was expected of him. If he hadn’t cried at all, he might have been condemned in much the same way as the Mersault of Albert Camus’ ‘L’Étranger’; but somehow the fake display seemed even more chilling. Or maybe he was just so bombed-out on Valium and cannabis that he couldn’t feel his feelings properly.

Whatever the reason, it made people suspicious. Tongues started wagging about seeing him out drinking in pubs, and how he seemed to be living it up by taking a holiday in Amsterdam with Brett and Julie. He wasn’t too popular with some of his relatives either, who were jealous of the wealth on the Bamber side of the family, and the fact that he had inherited the lot when he was just a ‘cuckoo’ in the nest. Could he have had something to do with the murders, they pondered. They found it hard to believe that Sheila could have carried out the shootings, as June and Nevill had tended to be quite reserved about the extent of their daughter’s mental problems, and they were unaware of just how seriously disturbed she was, especially as they only saw her on occasional visits to the farm. Jeremy, on the other hand, was seen to be on the fringe of conventional society, mixing with homosexuals and smoking cannabis.

There was another problem too. Jeremy now owned more than half the land they were farming, and they were seriously worried that he had plans to sell it. They badgered the police to investigate him, but Inspector Taff Jones was adamant that Jeremy was innocent and it was indeed a case of murder-suicide.

With the case now closed, much of the crime scene evidence was destroyed, and bloodied carpets had been taken outside and burned. Jeremy was understandably reluctant to go back inside the house after the terrible slaughter, so left the relatives to tidy up, unaware of their growing suspicions about him and the fact that they were searching for ‘evidence’ to link him to the crimes.

At some stage after the police searches had been concluded, the snooping relatives discovered a ‘silencer’ in the gun cupboard, which they kept hold of as possible evidence. Though it was often referred to as a ‘silencer’, it was in fact a sound moderator, commonly used on farms when shooting rabbits. A sound moderator would be of little help to a murderer, as it makes no difference to the sound heard by humans, but is used to reduce the sonic boom that alerts the rabbit before the bullet reaches it. In any case, the murder weapon was a .22 Anschutz rifle, which makes no more noise than a loud hand-clap.

When their suspicions about Jeremy continued to be dismissed, these unpleasant relatives complained to the Assistant Chief Constable, with the result that Inspector Taff Jones was replaced on the investigation, and later suffered a sudden death after mysteriously falling from a stepladder.

The sound moderator was sent for forensic testing, as it had a speck of blood inside it, with some red paint on the outside. The laboratory confirmed an enzyme of the type that was present in Sheila Caffell’s blood, although the sample was insufficient to make any definite conclusion. It was an enzyme that is found in many humans and also animals, so could just as easily have been rabbit’s blood. But the police investigation proceeded as though it were definitely Sheila’s blood. How could Sheila have shot herself dead, they asked themselves, and then put the sound moderator back in the gun cupboard? They also questioned whether her arms would have been long enough to shoot herself under the chin with the sound moderator attached.

Another puzzle was the red paint on the outside, which matched the red paint on the mantel in the kitchen. The relatives claimed to have found scratch marks on the mantel and suggested they might have been caused during a violent struggle with Nevill Bamber, whose body had been found nearby. Nevill was a sturdy six-foot-four farmer, and there was no way little Sheila could have overpowered him, they said, ignoring the fact that Nevill would have been disabled by the bullet wounds already sustained.

The whole issue of the sound moderator was actually a red herring, as there was no proof that it had ever been on the gun during the slaughter. The blood inside it was likely not Sheila’s blood at all, but could have resulted from a previous rabbit kill. Or it could have been Sheila’s but got there by ‘contamination’, as the amateur sleuths had brought the sound moderator home in the same bag as a pair of Sheila’s menstrually-stained knickers, which they had found soaking in a bucket.

As for the scratch marks on the mantel: disclosure of police documents many years later shows that they were not present in the original crime scene photos, but mysteriously appeared at some stage during the following weeks.

But the real clincher came when Jeremy jilted his girlfriend, Julie Mugford. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and after stabbing his teddy bear and trying to smother him with a pillow, she apparently told him, “If I can’t have you, then no-one else will.” She went to the police with a wild tale that he had hired a hit man to do away with his family, so that he could claim the inheritance, even naming a local plumber as the alleged hit man.

Jeremy was taken in for questioning, but later released, after the said plumber was found to have a solid alibi. But Julie persisted with her story, now changing it to suspicions that Jeremy had done the murders himself, claiming he had repeatedly told her of his plan to kill the family, even phoning her on the night in question to indicate that the mission had been carried out. It seems that Jeremy had indeed phoned her that night, after receiving the call from his father, and so this fitted nicely with her story. There was also the matter of her being in trouble with the police herself, over some unrelated charges, and she was able to get these charges dropped in exchange for giving evidence against Jeremy.

Jeremy had gone to France for a couple of weeks, trying to escape the pressures of being hounded by police and press, but was arrested immediately on his return and charged with five counts of murder. At first he must have seen it as a rather sick joke that would get sorted out eventually. There was absolutely no forensic evidence to link him to the crime, and he had the perfect alibi in that he had been outside with the police whilst the farmhouse siege was going on.

But the Prosecution had other ideas. They were relying on the sound moderator as key evidence that Sheila Caffell could not have killed herself and then replaced it in the gun cupboard, and therefore the killer had to be Jeremy, as no-one else had a motive. According to them, he had staged the whole thing to make it look like a case of murder-suicide by his mentally disturbed sister.

They ignored the statement by Sheila’s psychiatrist that she had the potential for physical violence. This statement was never referred to at trial or even typed up. They ignored the fact that she had no defence injuries. Indeed, they seem to have omitted all evidence that clashed with their bizarre version of events.

There was also the small matter of Jeremy having been outside with the police the whole time since around 3.45am. So a story was concocted that he must have committed the murders sometime between midnight and 3am, then gone home and called the police, pretending to have just been woken by a call from his father. Telephone logs show that the police had received two calls from two different numbers, one from Nevill at White House Farm and one from Jeremy at Goldhanger; but they conveniently omitted this from the prosecution evidence, misleading the jury into thinking that Nevill Bamber had never called them. There must also have been audio recordings of the two phone calls, but these have never been disclosed either.

Extensive police enquiries found that no-one in the locality had seen Jeremy on the roads between Goldhanger and the farm that night, and neighbours reported his car being parked outside his cottage. They therefore concluded that he must have made the three-mile journey on foot, and then used his mother’s bicycle to make a quick getaway across fields and along the sea wall. The said bicycle was found propped against the side of his cottage (having previously been borrowed for Julie to use), but there was no blood on it, nor any tyre tracks or other evidence to support this story.

The farmhouse was locked and bolted from the inside, with no evidence of any break-in, but they reckoned he must have climbed in through a window with a loose catch and then somehow managed to shut it behind him, without leaving any traces of blood, despite having just shot five people at close range with twenty-six bullets.

Any evidence that tended to dispute the Prosecution’s version of events was either lost or tampered with, or not disclosed to the Defence. Police photographs have recently come to light, showing the bloodied bible and note beside Sheila’s body, but these were not disclosed to the Defence at the time. There is also evidence that the bible was forensically examined and a match found for bloodied fingerprints; but the identity has never been disclosed. It is certain, though, that the prints will not have been Jeremy’s, or else they would have been used against him in court. www.youtube.com/watch?v=SH48WKZLTtc

They also covered up the fact that blood was still running from Sheila’s wounds in photographs taken at around 10.20am, indicating that the time of death could not have been prior to 4am, as they were claiming. It seems to have been a case of only disclosing what fitted their story and burying anything that clashed with it.

There must have been police officers there that night who knew that Jeremy was not the perpetrator: officers that had seen or heard someone moving inside the farmhouse whilst Jeremy was waiting outside. But they were willing to let an innocent man go to jail, in order to save their own careers. Evidence has come to light that a number of logs and statements were rewritten and altered, seemingly to hide the fact that the police had bungled their operation and failed to notice that Sheila was still alive when they first entered the house.

They had also failed to preserve the crime scene properly, and would not have wanted the public to know that they had been using the house for police training exercises with the bodies still in situ. Crime scene photographs show the gun and Sheila’s arm in various positions, so there is no precise evidence as to how she was actually found.

Jeremy certainly didn’t have a fair trial, when so much police evidence was undisclosed. The case was heard at Chelmsford Crown Court, where Julie Mugford spun her tale of his alleged confessions, knowing that the News of the World was waiting to pay £25,000 for her story if he was found guilty.

The key exhibit was the sound moderator found by the avaricious relatives, and the jury did pass a note to the judge, querying whether any of these relatives would financially benefit from Jeremy’s conviction.

This sound moderator was central to the case, insofar as Sheila’s blood had allegedly been found inside it, meaning that she could not have shot herself and then placed it back inside the gun cupboard downstairs. But the error in that argument is firstly the assumption that the sound moderator had even been on the gun when the shootings occurred, and secondly the assumption that the blood inside it belonged to Sheila Caffell, as there was no proof of either.

And the giant leap of logic is the assumption that, if it seems impossible for Sheila to have committed the crime, then Jeremy must have done it.

Nevertheless, Mr Justice Drake made his summing up on the basis of these false assumptions, telling the jury quite erroneously that they might find Jeremy Bamber guilty on the evidence of the sound moderator alone. But even then, some of the jury dissented.

He was found guilty on a 10-2 majority and sentenced to life imprisonment, the judge branding him “evil beyond belief”.

“It shows that you, young man that you are, have a warped and callous and evil mind behind an outwardly presentable and civilised appearance and manner.”

No, all it shows is that Jeremy Bamber didn’t get a fair trial.

But what a wonderful revenge for the jilted girlfriend, Julie Mugford, now Smerchanski, who made sure that no other woman could have her man, and collected twenty-five grand to boot! www.youtube.com/watch?v=JuiXtdq51Bg

The relatives also did very nicely out of it, taking over the farm and inheriting Jeremy’s rightful inheritance. One of them still lives at the murder scene, seemingly unperturbed by the blood still staining the old wallpaper and lampshades. www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YppVCocVbI

Meanwhile, the innocent Jeremy resides in Her Majesty’s prisons at a cost of £80,000 a year to the taxpayer, and spends his time transcribing braille for the blind and sifting through the thousands of legal documents that might help him win back his freedom. His tariff was originally twenty-five years, but this was later changed to a whole-life tariff, meaning that he’s been condemned to die in jail. Thank goodness they’ve abolished hanging. But the 10-2 majority? Doesn’t that mean there was some reasonable doubt???

He steadfastly refuses to take part in rehabilitation programmes when he is innocent; and in 2007 he passed a polygraph test with flying colours, after petitioning for years to be allowed to take it. The polygraph verdict was ‘No Deception Indicated’, and the polygrapher himself said, “I am absolutely convinced he is innocent. He did not show any sign of a reaction, not a flicker, which would have shown up guilt.”

Of course, the sceptics claim that it’s easy for psychopaths to pass lie-detectors, because they believe their own lies. The more he pleads his innocence, the more they see this as an indication of his ‘psychopathy’. But Jeremy has had twenty-seven psychiatric assessments whilst in prison, and none of them have shown any sign of psychopathy or personality disorder. Indeed, he must be a remarkably well-balanced person to cope so stoically with a situation that would have driven most people off the rails.

New evidence is gradually emerging to prove his innocence, but appeal judges and review boards don’t seem very interested in finding out the truth, only nit-picking the letter of the law as to whether different grounds should be allowed or refused.

Forensic scientists have testified that none of Sheila Caffell’s DNA was present either inside or outside the sound moderator, and yet even this point was lost on appeal, as the judges felt there were possible contamination issues. Experts have testified that the fatal gunshot wound to Sheila’s neck was a contact wound caused by the end of the rifle barrel, and not a sound moderator. The burn marks on Nevill Bamber’s back have also been confirmed as being made by a rifle without a sound moderator. But this evidence has been rejected too.

Jeremy has a cast-iron alibi in that he was OUTSIDE WITH THE POLICE when movement was detected inside the farmhouse and a firearms team was in conversation with someone within. There are also police phone logs showing that Nevill Bamber had made a 999 call from White House Farm saying his daughter Sheila had gone berserk with a gun, and that this call was made ten minutes before Jeremy's call from Goldhanger. www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1idaKFwNZs

There is also the matter of the scratch marks on the mantel, which were present on police photos taken in September 1985, but not on the original crime scene photos. This means that the trial judge’s summing up was quite wrong, when he said it was a "fact” that the moderator was on the rifle in the kitchen. And without that “fact”, there is surely no case against Jeremy.





Isisbridge said:

Jeremy Bamber documentary:

Sheila's psychiatrist, Dr Hugh Ferguson:

Friend's account of Sheila's psychotic behaviour:

How Sheila killed her family:

The bloodied bible:

Jeremy's cast iron alibi:

New evidence about 999 call from within farmhouse:

Interview with Eric Allison, Guardian:

Interview with Martin Ogram:


new evidence
5 years ago

Isisbridge said:

Jeremy's Blogspot:
4 years ago ( translate )

Isisbridge said:

36 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit:
7 months ago ( translate )