In 1986, a jury convicted Jeremy Bamber of murdering his adoptive parents, sister, and twin nephews. No one who’d seen photos of the inconsolable Bamber at the funeral would have thought him responsible for the murders. Police initially believed that Bamber’s schizophrenic sister, Sheila Caffell, had committed the murders before committing suicide.
However, the discovery that the killer might have used a silencer cast doubt on that theory. Julie Mugford, Jeremy’s ex-girlfriend, supported him during the funeral, but a month later, told police that Bamber had confessed to the murders. A judge sentenced Jeremy to five life terms, with the Home Secretary Douglas Hurd deciding that Jeremy should remain in jail for life.
Jeremy Bamber is a model prisoner, but prison authorities have refused to alter his prisoner status
Jeremy Bamber is a Category A prisoner in HMP Wakefield, Yorkshire. Category A prisoners are considered to pose the most danger to the public. They are, therefore, locked up in high-security conditions that leave little room for escape.
His barrister, Matthew Stanbury, opines that Bamber is a model prisoner who deserves a downgrade to Category B. Jeremy was once downgraded to Category B, offering him relaxed security conditions.
However, prison authorities bumped him up back to Category A, following protests by his cousins. Jeremy told David James Smith that he believes his cousins were being vindictive and had no credible reason to contest his downgrade.
In October 2020, Bamber lost another bid to have his prison status changed. His lawyers asked Mr. Justice Julian Knowles to conduct a review of the decision, describing the rejection as ‘unreasonable.’ Matthew Stanbury argued that Jeremy deserved an oral hearing in the interests of fairness.
He said that Jeremy had ‘served 35 years without ever having an oral hearing, and the passage of time means that a risk assessment is more difficult without a face-to-face assessment.’
Jeremy has worked in prison as a peer partner, helping other prisoners read and write. He also works in the Braille shop, translating books for the blind. It hasn’t been smooth sailing for Bamber, having required 28 stitches following a surprise knife attack from a fellow prisoner.
The prisoner ambushed Jeremy as he talked on the phone with a woman. The cuts were primarily superficial and didn’t puncture the jugular vein. “A prisoner was taken from Full Sutton to hospital following an assault,” a prison spokesperson told The Guardian.
Jeremy has instituted an appeal and is confident that it will secure his release
Jeremy’s attempts to have his sentence vacated have failed, but he is confident that his latest attempt will succeed. “Mr. Bamber is going back to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) because he got a significant amount of fresh evidence to show the conviction is unsafe,” Mark Newby, a solicitor who specializes in wrongful convictions, told The Guardian.
The latest challenge features 347,000 pages of evidence, including police logs recently made available to Jeremy. Jeremy told The Guardian that he hopes that the CCRC will refer the matter to the court of appeal. The CCRC is duty-bound to refer a case to the court of appeal if it opines there’s a reasonable chance that the court will rule in Jeremy’s favor.
“I am filled with hope and anticipation that the new submissions to the CCRC will achieve a speedy referral to the court of appeal,” Jeremy said. He added:
“The lack of disclosure by Essex Police has been at the heart of my case from the outset, and is still a feature today in an attempt by the Essex Police to maintain my wrongful conviction. I feel confident however that the CCRC will do their utmost to achieve disclosure of vital material in order to obtain my justice.”
Reviews by the CCRC usually take months and considering the size of the submissions by Jeremy’s team, it might be a while before the Commission decides the fate of Jeremy’s case.
Jeremy has secured some high-profile supporters, including ex-detective Mark Williams-Thomas. Mark famously helped expose Jimmy Savile’s sex crimes. He opines that Sheila committed the infamous White House Farm murders.
“I don’t believe Jeremy Bamber murdered his family – I think his sister Sheila Caffell did it and then took her own life,” Mark told The Daily Mail. “I write to Jeremy who is still in jail.”
Bamber is the only one of 75 prisoners in the UK who insists that they are innocent. A recent documentary by journalist Louis Theroux, The Bambers: Murder At The Farm, casts doubt on Jeremy Bamber’s conviction. Louis told Sky that after conducting investigations, he isn’t entirely sure that Jeremy is responsible for the crimes:
“The journey I went on was hearing something and going ‘If Jeremy Bamber did it, how did they explain that?’ – or ‘If Sheila did it, how would they explain that?’ Because of the nature of the case, we’re not in the realm of absolute certainty.”