the early hours of August 7th 1985, Essex Police received a call from a young
man named Jeremy Bamber, who was at home in Goldhanger, Essex. He said that his
father, Nevill, (also known as Ralph) who lived in Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex,
had called him and said that his sister Sheila Caffell had got a gun and gone
berserk. A car was despatched to White House Farm.
The Police car met Jeremy Bamber at the house,
passing him on the way. They didn’t enter the house, but on seeing a figure in
the window, they called for back-up. They had to wait some time for a firearms
team to arrive, and after several hours after 7.30am, armed officers stormed
They reported back that Nevill had been shot
eight times and was found in the kitchen. Sheila Caffell's twin sons were found
in their room, one having been shot three times in the head and the other five
times also in the head. Nevill’s wife, June, was found in the main bedroom
where she had been shot seven times. Beside June's bed lay Sheila, who had two gunshot
wounds in the neck, and held an Anschutz rifle in her hand which rested along her body. It appeared
she had committed suicide. Sheila could have survived for a few minutes after
sustaining the first wound but would have died immediately upon sustaining the
The coroner recorded the tragedy as four murders
and a suicide, but 31 days later, Jeremy Bamber was arrested twice. After his
then girlfriend Julie Smerchanski (nee Mugford) claimed he had told her he had
hired a hitman to carry out the killings, he was charged with murder.
The Prosecution’s case was that Jeremy Bamber
had pre-meditated the murder of his family. At some time between midnight and
3am, after finishing a day’s work on the farm, and after taking the .22 Anschutz
rifle out to shoot rabbits, he left the gun out and went home. Later, he had
gone back to White House Farm on this hot August night in the dark, by cycling some three miles from his home to the farm via fields.
The house was entirely locked from the inside and he climbed in through a small
Using a .22 Anschutz rifle, he attached a silencer and shot the entire family. It is not known in which order
this happened. There was a violent struggle between him and his father who had
already been shot eight times (Jeremy was supposed to be a crack shot and it
looks as though things had not gone according to plan). He beat his father in
the face with the butt of the rifle, knocking the silencer into the red paint
work underneath the mantle as he did so.
It is not clear if he had already killed the
others first, but he then removed the silencer from the gun, putting it in the
downstairs gun cupboard. He also arranged his sister’s body, so that she lay
calmly on the floor with a bible next to her. He then lay the gun down onto her
body and somehow left the farmhouse locked from the inside. He then used the
bicycle to ride the 3 miles back across farmland in the dark.
Jeremy Bamber had carried out the killings as he
wanted to inherit £423,000 from his family's estate.
Does this sound like a work of fiction to you?
If it does, and you want to find out about the case for the defence, click here.