Jeremy Bamber

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Jeremy Bamber
Bamber in 1986
Born(1961-01-13) January 13, 1961 (age 51)
ResidencePrisoner A5352AC in Full Sutton prison, York
EducationGresham's School, Norfolk
Known forWhite House Farm murders
Criminal penaltyConvicted on 28 October 1986 of murdering five family members, and sentenced to five life terms
ParentsNevill and June Bamber (d. 7 August 1985)
RelativesSheila Caffell, sister; Nicholas and Daniel Caffell, nephews (d. 7 August 1985)
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Jeremy Bamber
Bamber in 1986
Born(1961-01-13) January 13, 1961 (age 51)
ResidencePrisoner A5352AC in Full Sutton prison, York
EducationGresham's School, Norfolk
Known forWhite House Farm murders
Criminal penaltyConvicted on 28 October 1986 of murdering five family members, and sentenced to five life terms
ParentsNevill and June Bamber (d. 7 August 1985)
RelativesSheila Caffell, sister; Nicholas and Daniel Caffell, nephews (d. 7 August 1985)

Jeremy Nevill Bamber (born 13 January 1961) is a former British farmer who was convicted by a 10–2 majority in October 1986 of the White House Farm murders, which took place in Essex, England, in August 1985. He was sentenced to five life terms, and was told by the Home Secretary in 1994 that he would never be released.[1]

Bamber was 25 years old when he was convicted of having shot and killed his adoptive father, mother, sister, and her six-year-old twin sons in his parents' home at White House Farm. The prosecution argued successfully that, after carrying out the murders to secure a large inheritance, Bamber had placed the gun in his 28-year-old sister's hands to make it look like a murder-suicide. She had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, and for several weeks after the murders the police and media believed she was the killer.[2]

Arguing that he is the victim of a miscarriage of justice, Bamber has several times applied to have the conviction overturned, or his sentence reduced. The Court of Appeal upheld the conviction in 1989. The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) referred the case back to the Court of Appeal in 2001, which upheld the conviction again in 2002. The CCRC rejected further applications from Bamber's lawyers in 2004 and 2012.[3] In January 2012, he and two other British prisoners lost a case before the European Court of Human Rights, in which they argued that whole-life tariffs amount to degrading and inhuman treatment; in July 2012 they were granted the right to appeal that decision.[4] He has also lost two civil cases brought against relatives to secure a share of his family's estate.[5]

Bamber told The Guardian in 2011 that he has a drawing of himself on his cell wall standing on the steps of the Old Bailey with his hand raised, and has never contemplated the thought that he will not be released.[6] He does not have the support of his extended family, who were involved in gathering the evidence that saw him convicted and who remain convinced of his guilt.[7]


Early life and education

Bamber was born to a vicar's daughter who had had an affair with a married army sergeant, a comptroller at Buckingham Palace. She gave the baby up for adoption in 1961, the year of his birth, through the Church of England Children's Society. It was only after Bamber's conviction, when his adoption records were published, that his biological parents were told by reporters that Bamber was their son. They were by then married to each other, and both were working at Buckingham Palace.[8]

Bamber attended Gresham's School in Norfolk as a boarder.

He was adopted when he was six months old by Nevill and June Bamber. The Bambers were wealthy farmers who lived in a large Georgian house at White House Farm, near Tolleshunt D'Arcy in Essex. Nevill was also a local magistrate, and former RAF pilot. Four years earlier, the couple had also adopted a baby girl, Sheila.[9]

Bamber attended Maldon Court, a private school, then Gresham's School, a boarding school in Norfolk. Claire Powell writes that Nevill felt it would be inappropriate to send the boy to a local school for the village children, when he might one day have to employ them on the farm. This led, writes Powell, to a situation in which Bamber felt increasingly alienated from his family and their life in the countryside, as did his sister, who was also sent to boarding school.[10]

A close friend of his, Brett Collins, said Bamber was sexually assaulted when he was 11, around the time he started at Gresham's, and according to Collins, Bamber went on to have sexual relationships with men and women, finding that his good looks and charm made him popular with both.[11] He left school with no qualifications, much to Nevill's anger, but managed to pass seven O-levels at sixth-form college in Colchester, which he left in 1978.[12]

Work overseas and in England

After school, Bamber managed to persuade his father to finance a trip to Australia and New Zealand, where Nevill paid for him to do a scuba diving course. While in New Zealand, he reportedly broke into a jewellery store and stole two expensive watches, one of which he gave to a girlfriend back in England. He also boasted, according to Powell, that he had been involved in smuggling heroin overseas. One of his cousins later said Bamber ended up leaving New Zealand in a hurry, because friends of his had been involved in an armed robbery.[13]

He returned to England to work, at first, in restaurants and bars, which included working as a waiter in a Little Chef on the A12, but later agreed to return home and work on his father's farm.[13] Although he reportedly resented the low wages, he was given a car and lived rent-free in a cottage his father owned, three-and-a-half miles from the farmhouse, at 9 Head Street, Goldhanger. He also owned eight percent of his family's caravan site, Osea Road Camp Sites Ltd., in Maldon, Essex.[14]

Scott Lomax writes that two very different views have emerged of Bamber's personality. Prosecution witnesses described him as arrogant, with no respect for his family, and in search of a lifestyle he could not afford. Against this, his friends described him as gentle, someone who had never expressed violent thoughts. At the time of the murders, he had a girlfriend, Julie Mugford. A month after the murders, and after she believed Bamber had been unfaithful to her, Mugford told police he had confessed to having hired a friend to carry them out, though the person she said Bamber had implicated had a solid alibi.[15]

Lomax writes that Bamber has had several psychological assessments, and has reportedly been found not to have traits suggestive of psychopathy. He remains a Category A prisoner because he has refused to accept his guilt.[16] His lawyers arranged for him to undergo a lie detector test in 2007, which he passed.[17]

White House Farm murders

White House Farm in 2007

The White House Farm murders were described by The Times in 2001 as one of the most infamous criminal cases of the previous 20 years.[2] Police were alerted to the shootings at around 3:30 am on 7 August 1985 by Bamber, who told them his father had just telephoned him to say his sister, Sheila, had gone "berserk" with the father's rifle. Bamber and the police made their way to the farm, and after waiting outside until daylight, police broke the door down to find Nevill, June, Sheila, and her two sons, Nicholas and Daniel, shot 25 times, mostly at close range.[7]

Sheila was found dead on the floor of her parents' bedroom, with the rifle still up against her throat, in what appeared to be a murder-suicide. She had twice spent time in a psychiatric hospital, where she was treated with anti-psychotic medication, and had been released just months before the murders. Bamber told police she might have been especially distressed that night, because her parents had asked her to consider placing her sons in temporary foster care, as she was having difficulty coping. The prosecution argued there was no evidence that this discussion had taken place, and that Bamber's allegations were part of his setting the scene for Sheila to take the blame.[7]

The prosecution case hinged on several key points. First, they argued there was no evidence that Bamber's father had telephoned him, and that if Bamber was lying about the phone call, he must be the killer himself. They argued that the father was too badly injured after the first shots to have spoken to anyone; that there was no blood on the kitchen phone; and that he would have called the police, not Bamber. Second, they argued that the silencer was on the gun when the shots were fired. This was based on the discovery of what they said was a spot of blood inside the silencer. If the silencer was on the gun, Sheila could not have shot herself, because her reach was not long enough to hold the gun at her throat and press the trigger. They also argued that she was not strong enough to have overcome her 6' 4" father in what appeared to have been a violent struggle.[18]

Bamber's defence team has since produced expert testimony to challenge each of the key issues. They say there is a police log that indicates Bamber's father may, indeed, have called the police that night. They argue that the silencer may not have been on the gun during the attacks.[19] And they have produced crime-scene photographs that suggest Sheila's body and the gun were moved by Essex police, who then restaged the crime scene because they had inadvertently damaged it.[20] They also argue that, because the silencer was found in a cupboard at the farmhouse weeks after the murders by Bamber's relatives, who stood to inherit the estate if he was convicted, the silencer evidence should not be relied upon.[7]

Life in jail

Bamber is a Category A prisoner in HMP Full Sutton in York, and spends his time working in the prison's Braille workshop, transcribing books.[21] He said in 2001 he had had 17 jail moves and 89 cell moves since he was first arrested.[22] The Times alleged in March that year that he had been treated with a degree of indulgence. At Long Lartin, Worcestershire, he was reportedly given the key to his cell, studied for his GCSE in sociology and media studies, had a daily badminton lesson, and drew pictures of supermodels in art class that he sold through an outside agent. He has received compensation twice, once after suffering whiplash injuries when a van moving him between prisons crashed, and once when a Game Boy was stolen from his cell.[2]

An attractive man who was clearly comfortable with women, he says he has had three relationships with women inside, one of them with a trainee policewoman, and that he receives 50 letters a week from women. He has been involved in some trouble too. He once attacked a prisoner with a broken bottle, and had to be placed in solitary confinement when inmates were angered by his stories to journalists about the comfortable lifestyle he said prisoners have.[2] In May 2004, he was attacked by another inmate while making a telephone call, and received 28 stitches on his neck.[23] As a prisoner alleging a miscarriage of justice, he is allowed access to the media, and once called a radio station from Whitemoor jail to protest his innocence.[2]

Lawsuits against extended family

He launched two unsuccessful lawsuits while in prison to recover a share of his family's estate. In 2003, he began a High Court action to recover £1.2m from the estate of his adoptive grandmother, Mabel Speakman, arguing that he should have inherited her home at Carbonnells Farm, Wix, and that he was owed 17 years' back rent from his cousins who were living there.[24] Speakman had cut Bamber out of her will when he was arrested, and most of the inheritance went to Pamela Boutflour, June Bamber's sister.[25] Boutflour subsequently moved into Carbonnells Farm with her husband, Robert.[24]

In 2004, Bamber went to the High Court again to claim a share of the profits from the family's caravan site in Maldon. He had retained his shares after his conviction, but had sold them to pay the legal costs arising from his claim on his grandmother's estate. The Court ruled that he was not entitled to any profit from the site because of his conviction.[26]


  1. ^ Hutchison, Peter. "Jeremy Bamber: a profile", The Daily Telegraph, 11 February 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e Times editorial. "Murder most foul, but did he do it?", 18 March 2001.
  3. ^ Allison, Eric. "Jeremy Bamber murder appeal bid thrown out, The Guardian, 26 April 2012.
  4. ^ Whitehead, Tom. "Notorious killers can die behind bars, rules Europe", The Daily Telegraph, 17 January 2012.
  5. ^ "Bamber claims £1m from family", BBC News, 18 August 2003.
  6. ^ Allison, Eric et al. "Jeremy Bamber: Will new evidence bring historic third appeal?", Guardian Films, 30 January 2011; see the start of the video for "never contemplated the thought," and 12:47 mins for the drawing.
  7. ^ a b c d Smith, David James. "And by dawn they were all dead", The Sunday Times Magazine, 11 July 2010 (webcite); pp. 19–20 for the relatives.
  8. ^ Powell, Claire. Murder at White House Farm. Headline Book Publishing, 1994, p. 265.
  9. ^ Lomax, Scott. Jeremy Bamber: Evil, Almost Beyond Belief?. The History Press, 2008, pp. 67–68.
  10. ^ Powell 1994, pp. 28–30.
  11. ^ Powell 1994, pp. 38, 46.
  12. ^ Powell 1994, p. 40.
  13. ^ a b Powell 1994, pp. 47–48.
  14. ^ Lomax 2008, pp. 68–69.
    • For the cottage in Goldhanger, see "R – v – Jeremy Bamber", before Lord Justice Kay, Mr Justice Wright, and Mr Justice Henriques, Royal Courts of Justice, 12 December 2002, para 18.
  15. ^ Lomax 2008, p. 70.
  16. ^ Lomax 2008, pp. 71–72.
  17. ^ "Mass killer Bamber 'passes lie detector'", The Daily Mail, 10 April 2007.
  18. ^ "R – v – Jeremy Bamber", 12 December 2002.
  19. ^ Allison, Eric and Townsend, Mark. "Gun experts raise doubts over Jeremy Bamber murder verdict", The Observer, 4 February 2012.
  20. ^ Allison, Eric et al. "Jeremy Bamber: Will new evidence bring historic third appeal?", Guardian Films, 30 January 2011, from 06:36 mins, and 08:00 mins.
  21. ^ Lomax 2008, pp. 72–73.
  22. ^ Morris, Steven. "'Evil' family killer granted appeal", The Guardian, 13 March 2001.
  23. ^ Wainwright, Martin. "Murderer Bamber suffers knife attack in prison", The Guardian, 1 June 2004.
  24. ^ a b "Bamber claims £1m from family", BBC News, 18 August 2003.
  25. ^ "On This Day," The Times, 29 October 1986.
  26. ^ "Killer's family cash claim fails", BBC News, 6 October 2004.

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