The Bloodied Bible

Bloodied Fingerprints on the Bible

The Bloodied Bible and Non Disclosure 23.08.13

Non-disclosure continues to be at the very heart of what keeps Jeremy Bamber in jail. One of the most substantial aspects of the case relates to the missing Bible and note. Police were unable to find any forensic evidence to link Jeremy as being responsible for the deaths of his parents, sister and two nephews at White House Farm. While admittedly no type of evidence is 100% accurate, it is certainly true that since the early 1990’s DNA evidence has been highly regarded and it was in the mid 1990’s that a Special Branch officer ordered the destruction of almost all of the DNA exhibits. Here we outline the significance of the evidence from the Bible and also other items that were known to exist at the scene that have not been seen since, there are almost three decades of non-disclosure preventing the truth prevailing in this case. Found next to Sheila was a light blue, New International Version of the Holy Bible. Photographs from the scene show it lay text-downward, up against the side of Sheila’s right arm. We are able to see from these images, not disclosed until 2002, that the Bible was bloodied quite substantially.

By M, Wall, S Hanover & J, Bamber. 

The Bloodied Bible and Disclosure at Trial and the 2002 Appeal

In 2002 when the Defence had access to further crime scene photographs including pictures of the Bible which had been denied existed at trial, Jeremy’s team mounted appeal grounds surrounding the Bible which was found next to Sheila.

In 1986, Paul Terzeon, Jeremy’s Solicitor had seen the Bible next to Sheila Caffell in the crime scene photographs. Terzeon, whilst on a visit to Witham Police station had requested to see photographs of the Bible taken in isolation. He was told that the Bible had been destroyed and that there were no photographs of it alone.[1] It is odd then, that in 2002 Essex police eventually released these close up pictures of the bloodied Bible. It is reasonable to ask why their existence was denied which demonstrates not only an obstruction of justice but also amounts to an unfair trial.

At the 2002 Appeal Mr Terzeon was shown the bundle of photographs that, many years earlier he had believed were not in existence. In Appeal testimony he recalled making a request for them and in an exchange with Mr Turner QC outlined the point as follows:

Mr Turner: “So tell us. Your belief at that stage [was] that the Bible had been destroyed”.

Mr Terzeon: “Yes”[2]

The defence had no access to the Bible pre-trial as they had been told by DS Stan Jones that it had been destroyed, and would therefore not have requested to carry out examinations on it. [3]

Documents given to the Defence by the Crown Prosecution service from material previously under Public Interest Immunity were disclosed in 2002 after the Appeal, but before the judgement. These reveal that at the time of the original trial the Bible had not been destroyed and police knew this. Appeal judges stated that the Bible was a material exhibit and was available at the time of Jeremy’s trial, in effect, Jeremy explains, he was told “Bad luck, Jeremy – you had your chance at trial and blew it.” The Bible was not exhibited at trial because the material exhibits list shows that it was never brought into the court and it was not assigned a court exhibit number. Curiously though, disparity in the material disclosed to the defence from the 1991 City of London Police enquiry shows, that the Bible was assigned the police exhibit reference DRH/44 and handed to the relatives in one document; in another it is listed a destroyed.[4] Curiously again the same reference of DRH/44 was originally assigned to the hand swabs taken from Sheila Caffell at the mortuary on the 7th of August 1985 and which were then examined at Huntingdon Laboratory on the 9th of September 1985.[5]

Forensic examination of the bloodied fingerprints on the Bible.

Amid the 3.5 million pages of documents disclosed at this time we discovered that Essex Police undertook a forensic test on prints taken from the bloodied Bible and the additional items which found a “positive result”. This means that police were aware that the prints matched an individual, yet at no point during the lead up to Jeremy’s trial nor the decade following did they disclose who they belonged to. It was only in 1999 that further supporting evidence of fingerprinting of the Bible emerged through an informal interview with an ex police Inspector who worked on the case who also detailed that the bible was found to carry fingerprints.[6] In 1999 the Defence lawyer made a request for the result of these fingerprint tests to the CCRC but no documents on the results of tests were obtained.

In the event that police genuinely believed in Jeremy’s guilt in 1985 then finding his fingerprints in the blood of his supposed victims near the dead body of one of them would have presented the prosecution with an open-and-shut case. Jeremy was eventually convicted on hearsay, corrupted and doctored evidence and questionable witness testimony, none of which would have been needed if Jeremy had been guilty and the prints had been his. Clearly, police misled the jury because the fingerprint results remain undisclosed.

The deception by police in this instance went further. The Defence’s forensic scientist wrote to Paul Terzeon a few weeks before the trial, he stated: “a wealth of good quality fingerprints are now regularly being found by use of chemical treatments on paper – that the Holy Bible was not examined was incomprehensible.” So, not only did Essex Police state to Paul Terezon that the Bible had been destroyed, but they also told the defence fingerprint expert that nobody at all, even the prosecution, had tested the Bible for fingerprints.[7]

The 2002 Appeal, the Note in the Bible and the Crocheted Cloth

Police attempts to manipulate what would have been the cornerstone of a case to prove Jeremy’s innocence at trial went even further. Clearly seen protruding from the pages of the Bible in more than one photograph is a handwritten note, which overwhelmingly supports the notion of a murder-suicide. It is reasonable to suggest this could be a suicide note from Sheila. This issue should have been fully explored at trial yet, along with the photographs of the Bible, police inexplicably have never revealed finding this note, neither logging it or making mention of it in any witness statements or any other documents. This again unknowingly drew the Defence’s attention away from the Bible as an exhibit when, to constitute a fair and proper trial, all facts, detail and evidence relating to the Bible and the note should have been made fully transparent in court.

Had the fingerprints in blood on the note been found to belong to Sheila, then it would have proven that she was the killer of the family. The note should also have been analysed for comparative traits to Sheila’s own handwriting. This highly significant item was not disclosed to the defence and it is also clear that Essex Police went to extraordinary lengths to hide its existence.

In 2002 the Defence explored the pages at which the Bible was found open according to information gleaned from the Stokenchurch investigation by the Metropolitan Police, the page had been found open at pages 656-657, Psalms 51-55. These were interpreted by Theologian Dr Gillingham of Worcester College, Oxford,[8] in conjunction with the testimony of Sheila’s Psychologist Dr Ferguson. Dr Gillingham’s findings couldn’t be more detailed or clear in her 11 page statement to the Defence.

“In this case, Psalm 51 could not be more pertinent: it 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.” She goes on “Psalm 51 could be termed a prayer of a sinner – i.e one who feels (s)he has committed some great evil and so pleads forgiveness from God.”

Overall the psalms reflect Sheila’s feeling of wanting to ‘cleanse or wash out’ evil deeds the details also reflect that God would release the person from sin after death.

What the Defence didn’t realize at the time of the 2002 Appeal was that there were photocopies of 6 other bloodied pages of the Bible with fingerprints on and passages underlined.[9] This was never discussed with the Defence pre trial and no interpretation has ever been made into the text of these pages. It is questionable whether the Psalms that Dr Gillingam examined were actually the pages the Bible was found open at beside Sheila’s body. This is because the page number at which the Bible was apparently found open does not correspond to the same point on the spine or the thickness of the pages in the photographs when it was photographed face up, neither does it correspond to the pages photographed in examinations carried out by the defence using an identical Bible. Secondly, the other 6 pages which were undisclosed that were found to be both bloodied and underlined, appear to be relevant to the cleansing of evil. Furthermore, Sheila had handled the pages that Dr Gillingham interpreted as (what must be) her bloodied prints appear on the page.

The Note

The note protruding from the Bible seen in photographs is bloodied and is entitled “Love one Another” which is an extract from John 13:34.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

The nature of the passage as a whole is where Jesus predicts his own sacrifice. The passage might well have real significance and at no time did Essex police or the CPS approach Sheila’s psychiatrist, who was called to give evidence at trial, and ask him to comment on this note and its contents. Police withheld clear and relevant evidence from expert witnesses as well as the court for no other reason than to further the prosecution case.

Referring back to the photographs of the Bible at the scene we can see within the Bible is a piece of crocheted cloth. Its significance is unknown and there is no police record that the cloth ever existed at the scene despite its presence in the photographs.

Above we have outlined in some detail the lengths that Essex police went to and continue to go to in order to downplay the significance of the Bible and the associated items we have discussed. At trial the Defence believed that because of the information or lack thereof given by Police, there were no photos of the Bible; no bloodied fingerprints and no handwritten note, yet they have all since been proven to exist. Without knowing any of this information it is unfair that the the Bible (completely irrespective of note and cloth) still physically remained as a material exhibit 27 years ago but now is essentially out of Jeremy’s reach.

Understandably, without reason to look at exhibits during examination of witnesses there is no call to produce them. They may physically be in court but unless a witness is giving evidence about them they remain in their sealed property bags and are not presented to the jury directly. As the prosecution called no one to give evidence regarding the Bible, no questions were asked about it. The only reference to the Bible residing in the court property store is a hand written note on the material exhibits list, but it is not known when this was added to the document. In light of alterations made retrospectively to other material, one could analogously conclude that this was inserted retrospectively.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission: Powers to Obtain Evidence and Refer Cases Back to the Appeal Court.

We are expected to believe that the overwhelming evidence presented above is unusable in attempts to prove Jeremy’s innocence purely because, despite the lies the Defence were told in relation to the Bible, it was still physically present at trial. Astonishingly, there is a legal loophole that the Criminal Cases Review Commission is empowered to use to navigate around this ‘rule’. Essentially the Commission may refer a case to the Court of appeal based on evidence and exhibits that were already at an original trial so long as the issue in question is felt to be “necessary or expedient in the interest of justice.” However this power is purely discretionary.[10] In its refusal to refer Jeremy’s case to appeal in 2011, the CCRC indicated its belief that the Bible had been destroyed.[11] Evidence suggests that the Bible in question was not destroyed back in the 1980’s moreover, it is probable that it is in existence today. Police gave possession of it back to Jeremy’s extended relatives who benefited financially from his conviction.[12] Given the passage of time its significance as DNA evidence is likely to have been weakened but back in 1985 it may well have been significant in obtaining blood groupings. This is telling enough, and it is without question that this is one of the many issues that the CCRC must explore in detail.

Jeremy himself has stated he believes that the Bible, written note and cloth, had they been presented with all relevant and associated information at the time of trial, would have been as big an instrument to the defence as the prosecution claimed the evidence relating to the moderator was to their case against him. Ironic indeed that the moderator evidence, too, was the subject of manufacture, manipulation and conjecture.

Quite simply it was not and is not the responsibility of Essex Police to adjudicate on what may have been, or what would be relevant information and evidence for the Defence. The trial jury should have been presented with every facet of information in order to reach a decision on innocence or guilt. This is supposedly the basis for our entire criminal justice system and yet the case of the Bible is another example of how the Jeremy Bamber case has been a glowing beacon of miscarriage in this system.

This article replaces the archived page here. To find out more about how the police moved the scene whilst taking photographs please read Sheila's body.

Supporting Material.

[1] Paul Terzeon, 2002 Appeal transcript, and 2nd September Statement, 2002. “I have a recollection of specifically asking an officer whether the police knew of the pages at which the Bible lay open, or had a photograph of the same, and I was told that they did not have any photographs and were unaware of the pages in question.”

[2] R V Bamber, 2002 Appeal judgment, para 153, 143-144.

[3] Criminal Cases Review Commission, Provisional Statement of Reasons, 2011, para 332.

[4] 17-006, Index list for exhibits (Court). AA-05-017) Case (Exhibits) – List (COLP)

[5] B14, 13.09.85 Forensic submission, note this is a re-written copy of another forensic examination (B15) where the hand swabs are also labeled as DRH/33.

[6] Ewen Smith, Glaisyers, Letter 1. 11. 99. Request for S.17 by CCRC re evidence of fingerprints.

[7] Letter to Paul Terzeon, from FSS, 5.9.86

[8] AX-29-05 Dr Gillingham,
Statement. 09.09.02  

[9] Holmes box 2/278 records a police officer attending the rectory to discuss the Bible passages with the Vicar. But the officer noted in his statement that he didn’t attend after all. It is therefore unclear if the police made an interpretation of the Bible pages before trial; and if so which pages of the Bible they were referring to.

[10] S.17 of the Criminal Appeals Act gives the CCRC powers to obtain material which is still in existence.

[11] CCRC, PSOR, 201, para 332.

[12] A5-08-06 Details that the Bible was not destroyed, but given to the relatives who were ‘unable to locate it for the Appeal of 2002.’