The 2002 Appeal and the mystery of blood in the sound moderator
by J, Bamber and J. Martin-Adams: last updated 25.01.13
Part of the prosecution case against Jeremy Bamber at his trial in 1986 involved the claim that a blood flake discovered inside a sound moderator must have originated from Sheila Caffell. Supposedly, the existence of this blood meant that the sound moderator must have been attached to the rifle when the murders were carried out. However, because the moderator was later discovered in the gun cupboard, Sheila could not have committed suicide with it still attached. It is, of course, as the judge put it, ‘inconceivable’ that she could have shot herself and then unscrewed the moderator and put it away.
However, the argument concerning Sheila’s blood was undermined seriously by tests carried out prior to the 2002 appeal,
which involved DNA testing which was not available in 1985. These tests cast doubt on the claim that Sheila’s blood had ever been present inside the moderator, prompting the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to make a referral to the Court of Appeal during their 2001 investigation.
Background – the significance of the AK enzyme
Human blood is made up of a number of different constituents including red and white blood cells, plasma, and a number of different enzymes. In forensic science, some of these enzymes are used to make the distinction between blood samples from one person and blood samples from another. One example is the AK enzyme, which would become important in the case of Jeremy Bamber.
Human beings have two types of AK enzyme, namely, AK1 and AK2-1. The blood flake discovered inside the sound moderator was analyzed and found to contain the AK1 enzyme, meaning that it could not have originated from June Bamber, whose blood contained AK2-1. The blood of the other deceased family members – Nevill Bamber, Daniel Caffell and Nicholas Caffell – belonged to the AK-1 grouping. David Boutflour and Ann Eaton (the children of Robert and Pamela Boutflour) also shared the AK1 grouping: both handled Nevill Bamber’s sound moderator (DB/1) before giving it to Essex Police. Sheila Caffell’s enzyme blood grouping was A, PGM 1 +, EAP BA, AK1, HP2-1: an identical match to Robert Boutflour, Jeremy’s uncle though marriage to his mother’s sister, Pamela Speakman. Both Robert and Pamela were primary beneficiaries of the estate upon the conviction of Jeremy Bamber.
At the 1986 trial, the Court was told that the discovery of the AK-1 enzyme constituted clear evidence that the blood flake found inside the sound moderator came from Sheila Caffell. What the Court was not told was that the AK-1 enzyme found in human blood is genetically identical to the AK-1 enzyme found in the blood of pigs, cattle, rabbits, chickens and carp. The rifle and the sound moderators were used to shoot game and could have been carried alongside rabbits when returning from a shoot. Had the Court been informed that two types of animal blood were found on the outer surface of the first sound moderator (SBJ/1), perhaps the discovery of the AK-1 enzyme would have been attributed to animal, rather than human, blood. Given that this discovery was not disclosed until after the 2002 Appeal, the Court was denied the opportunity to consider the significance of this information during the 1986 trial.
The 2002 Appeal
Police records confirm that a total of three Parker Hale MM1-type sound moderators (SBJ/1; DB/1 and DRB/1) were seized by Essex Police in 1985. In preparation for the 2002 appeal, tests were carried out on one of the three moderators to analyse DNA on the internal baffle plates. It is not known which of three was examined for the appeal. The fact that all three moderators were mixed up and mislabelled by Essex Police caused confusion for many years, but it has now become clear which of the three was kept by the police after the trial, and which were returned to Jeremy’s cousins, Anthony Pargeter and David Boutflour.
The sound moderator retained by Essex Police was DNA tested by forensic experts working for the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) in 2001, revealing both male and female DNA on the internal baffle plates. The female DNA turned out to be a perfect match for June Bamber, even though her blood grouping of AK2-1 was not found inside the moderator in 1986. The results confirmed that the male DNA was not a match for Jeremy Bamber.
The prosecution team tried to establish whether the sound moderator contained DNA matching Jeremy’s relatives, including David Boutflour, Robert Boutflour, Peter Eaton and Anthony Pargeter, all of whom had handled one or more of the sound moderators. With the exception of Anthony Pargeter, there is no evidence to suggest that the other male relatives agreed to provide DNA samples to be checked against the male DNA found inside the moderator.
At the 2002 appeal, the prosecution’s forensic experts conceded that the Crown could no longer rely on Sheila’s blood ever having been inside the sound moderator. However, Mark Webster, a forensic scientist called to give evidence by the defence, argued that because the DNA found on the sound moderator could not be attributed to blood, it remains possible that the blood that was originally present on the internal baffle plates had been completely swabbed off during earlier testing, and that the DNA from June Bamber and the unknown male may have been nothing more than accidental cross-contamination. In other words, the absence of Sheila’s DNA did not mean that her blood had never been present inside the sound moderator.
Although Mark Webster had been called to give evidence on behalf of the defence, his testimony completely undermined the argument of the defence that Sheila’s blood had never been on the sound moderator’s baffle plates, and accordingly, the appeal judges dismissed this ground of appeal based upon Mr Webster’s evidence. Ironically, had Jeremy’s defence lawyers not called Mr Webster to give evidence, the appeal judges would probably have accepted the evidence given by the prosecution’s forensic experts and the appeal against conviction might have been granted.
The three sound moderators
The courts have never been presented with evidence that Essex Police actually seized three sound moderators during the original investigation. Recently disclosed evidence shows that Essex Police seized one moderator from the gun cupboard on 7 August 1985 (SBJ/1). David Boutflour discovered Nevill Bamber’s sound moderator (DB/1) on 10 August 1985, which was handed to the police by Peter and Ann Eaton on 11 September 1985. David Boutflour handed in his own sound moderator (DRB/1) shortly after 25 September 1985, and this was returned to him on 20 May 1988. Essex Police submitted two of these sound moderators (SBJ/1 and DRB/1) for forensic analysis, yet it was concluded that the blood, paint and DNA findings all related to one sound moderator. Although the recently unearthed evidence confirms that the results relate to two separate sound moderators, Essex Police somehow combined all of the forensic findings from two identical sound moderators to make the case that only one moderator was examined at Huntingdon Forensic Laboratory. At the 1986 trial, the combined evidence from SBJ/1 and DB/1 was presented as being from DRB/1, which, ironically, was the only sound moderator which had not been subject to forensic examination.
 AA-03-07, Forensic Papers, (AK-1 enzyme present in humans).
 AA-11-AC-23, Glynnis Howard, Forensic Biologist (notes, 29 April, 1986, Huntingdon Forensic Laboratory). Blood containing HP2-1 and EAP BA and HP2. AH-10-02, John Hayward, forensic biologist, 13 November 1985 Statement.
 Blood grouping results of deceased and other relatives, (BU-187-21), Sheila Caffell grouping (A, PGM 1 +, EAP BA, AK1,HP2-1); identical grouping to Mr R W Boutflour, also A, PGM 1 +, EAP BA, AK1,HP2-1. (AX-04-04)
 AA-03-13 Chart (results) blood tests, Huntingdon FSL, various dates 8 August 1985 to 31 October 1985
 John Hayward, forensic biologist, trial transcript, 10 October 1986,
 AH-10-08, F Kobayashi, M Nosaka, A Nakazawa, M Go. Ancient divergence of long and short isoforms of adenylate kinase: molecular evolution of the nucleoside monophosphate kinase family. Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Nagoya University, Chikutsa-ku. Japan , pg 216.
 Op cit n3 G, Howard.
 Op cit n3 G, Howard.
A fourth sound moderator was obtained from Robert Boutflour, AG-04-08, 4 September 1991, pg 134 (PDF 29). Additional citations to “Moderators Page” work still in progress.
 AH-21-02 Clayton, forensic biologist, statement, 27 February 2001, refers to DB/1 and AH-20-01, Dr Martin Ismail, statement, 23 August 2002, refers to DB/1.
 AX-03-01, R v Bamber, 2002 Para 490 and 491.
 AG-05-01, David Boutflour (statement, 12 September 1985) admits that he informed the police that he found the sights and handled the sound moderator, also noted in Essex police Message 44, report to Inspector Scollan on 11 September 1985 at 11:35pm. Anthony Pargeter, (statement, 12 December 1985) details that he handled the moderator. AG-01-10 Anthony Pargeter provided DNA, Stokenchurch Action report 21 November 2011. AJ-19-01, Groombridge, forensic biologist, statement, details that Pamela Boutflour and Colin Caffell provided DNA. AR-11-02, R Boutflour, statement, 04.09.91, pg 26: ‘I looked at it but didn’t touch it’. It is unclear which moderator Robert Boutflour actually handled as he handed his own moderator to police, pg 29. AJ-14-04, Property Register ‘Document 19’, entry number 675, undated. Further entry on AJ-14-06, two moderators entered as article 512 and again as article 648.
 AX-02-08, Summary of Proceedings, 2002 Appeal, Pg 216. Cross contamination suggests DNA evidence may not be from blood at all.
 AX-03-01, op cit, n9, para 504-506, ‘That in accordance with the emphasised part of Mr Webster’s report quoted above the DNA testing results were rendered completely meaningless.’
 AA-11-AB-13, Davidson, Interview Precis, 3 October 1991, para 16-17, fingerprinting moderator on 9 August the day before it was apparently found by David Boutflour. BU-209-01, Box 09, Ainsley Press Release, page 5 details that a moderator was taken from the farm for forensic examination, not one found by a civilian witness.
 CE-12-01, David finds sound moderator at White House Farm.
 AJ-14-04, Property register, (entry/article 675).
 CE-07-44, four sound moderators, cited SBJ/1, DB/1, DRB/1, ND/1.
 CE-10-01, Scenes of Crime Property Book shows no entry for a sound moderator.