Sheila Killed The Family

Message. . . Mr Bamber, White House Farm . . . "Daughter gone berserk . . . daughter Sheila Bamber 26 years, has got hold of one of my guns"

by S. Hanover and L. Lake.

Last updated: 15.01.15

There is absolutely no question that Sheila Caffell killed her family in a psychotic episode. This page is to detail just some of the major factors in piecing together how and why she did it. Sheila was not the Medea character of Euripides, but a modern young woman who loved her children but as a Paranoid Schizophrenic she had many delusions about them and was frequently fearful that they might harm her, and told her psychologist that she was afraid she would kill them.[0] She was let down by a system which demonstrably failed to protect her, her children and her family from her illness. Case documents show that there was no support for her, no meetings between herself; doctors; psychologists and her family; or for the children's father to understand her illness. There was no advice or information given to them or guidance on how to cope with her condition at a practical day to day level.

Over-powering Nevill

Nevill Bamber was a tall man at 6ft 4 inches and a healthy 61-year-old farmer at that. There is the prevailing argument that Sheila Caffell at 5ft 7.5 inches and at 8.5 stone would not have been able to overpower Nevill Bamber. We agree with this completely, in fact I would go so far to suggest that few people would be able to overpower Nevill Bamber even at the age of 61. Nevertheless, if you speak to a psychiatric nurse or doctor you will hear stories of very slight and petite women in psychotic states being so strong and out of control that they have only eventually been restrained by a number of people.

Regardless of this, the point that is being missed continually is that Nevill had almost certainly been shot before he was hit with the butt of the rifle by Sheila. Neither has there been the consideration that Nevill could have been unconscious or dead when he was beaten. This is not simple conjecture. Nevill had been shot eight times and it is unclear in which order. The injuries from bullets were to his head, and to his arms and into the chest. [1] Other injuries caused by a blunt object which was likely to have been the butt of the rifle were to his face, these were around the eyes, forehead, cheekbones and the top rear of the skull. There were some other injuries to his right forearms and also to his upper chest. Considering the height of Nevill Bamber’s head it is unlikely that he was attacked whilst standing up. Nevill was found sitting down and it is clear that Sheila attacked Nevill with the butt of the gun after he was incapacitated while he was sitting down. The argument that Sheila Caffell could not have overpowered Nevill Bamber is demonstrably not a valid one.

Sheila’s Feet

Much has been made of Sheila’s appearance at the scene. I won’t detail too much about it here as there is a whole page about how the police moved Sheila’s body and she was photographed in different positions. Crime scene photographs of Sheila have inappropriately been put on the internet and much has been made of her ‘cleanliness.' The Defence and some writers have suggested that she had washed ritualistically. This is of course a possibility. However, I would like to approach this matter in a different way. Sheila was photographed next to the bed on the floor. In the photo, she has a considerable amount of blood down the right hand side of her body, indicating that she was sitting upright when the first shot was fired and the blood ran down her body before the second shot entered. The pathologist testified she would not have been killed outright after the first shot but would have been able to even stand and walk around for a while.

The problem with photographs which have appeared on the internet is that they are of extremely low quality. Some are photographs taken of photographs before the digital age, and it is difficult to pick out any detail. An example of the quality difference between these and the recently developed high resolution images (using £60,000 worth of equipment) is illustrated by the photograph on the right. These socks were found next to Sheila’s body. It is a possibility that Sheila was wearing these socks and took them off before shooting herself. Moreover, this picture shows blood spots on the socks which are light blue. In pictures seen elsewhere on the internet the socks look dark blue or black. There is no detail of the blood on them. Passing judgement of the condition of Sheila's body is difficult without expert forensic advice and high quality photographs.

Conveniently, neither the crime scene pictures or the mortuary pictures show the sole of her right foot at all. It is a fact that individual photographs were deliberately cut from the strips before disclosure by Essex Police[2]. This is something I won't go into here, but again the left foot looks relatively clean apart from some bloodspots. Nevertheless, the high resolution images of Sheila’s feet taken at the scene and at the mortuary show blood on the sole of Sheila’s left foot. t is clear from these pictures that she has walked in blood. The argument that there was a large pool of blood around Nevill Bamber’s body is a valid one, but this amount would have poured from him for some time, and long after Sheila had walked away from his body. The kitchen floor outside of this pool was clear of blood. The overturned sugar was confined to a small area, so there is no reason why Sheila Caffell would have had sugar or excessive amounts of blood on her feet.

Location of her body

Sheila was found on the floor on her father’s side of the bed. What strongly suggests that Sheila committed suicide is the fact that she had calmly laid down on the floor. The argument that Jeremy had persuaded Sheila to sit down or lie down calmly on the floor while he positioned the gun awkwardly under her chin is quite ridiculous. If as the prosecution state, Sheila Caffell was not in a psychotic state, then why did she not fight Jeremy to save the lives of her family and children? Why did Jeremy not have Defence wounds on his arms like the ones on Nevill Bamber had which correspond with those on Sheila Caffell’s arm? The location of Sheila’s body could have had psychological significance for Sheila at the time she died but we will never know what this was. And why would Jeremy, an alleged clever and calculating murderer, march Sheila into her parent’s bedroom shoot her twice and expect to pass it off as a suicide? It is an illogical notion and as, the pathologist suggested, for Sheila to have been killed by someone else she would have needed to have been drugged, but tests confirmed she had no sedatives in her body.

Gun Residue

When the rifle was fired it gave off lead residue. There were swabs taken at the mortuary and sent to the lab but these were rejected owing to contamination issues. Their exhibit reference number was altered and then they were sent back by police and accepted which is highly suspicious considering the reference numbers were also altered and interchanged with other evidence. These swabs showed very low levels of lead when tested and the prosecution insisted this proved that although there was lead present on her hands, it was not enough for someone who had fired 25 rounds. But tests by forensic ballistics expert Philip Boyes show that just by wiping your hands on a cloth you can reduce the lead levels considerably. It is not possible to conclude that Sheila did not handle the rifle, or fire the last two shots after washing her hands. Considering the swabs were tampered with this evidence is highly unreliable [3]

Blood on Sheila’s Hands

Sheila’s hands were not clean as the prosecution claimed. Again there are no photographs disclosed of the undersides of her hands. One could wonder why that is? It is possible that she had washed them as people in psychotic states do undertake cleaning rituals. Nevertheless, high resolution photographs of her hands show blood on the front of her right hand and also on the front and sides of her fingers. There is now no reasonable argument that Sheila’s hands and feet were clean of blood.

Sheila’s Nails

Contrary to another popular myth, Sheila’s nails were not ‘perfectly manicured.' They were long, red, painted nails and although it appeared they were intact, the polish had been chipped badly, and the same can be said of her toe nails. Part of her toe nail polish was found on the floor in the kitchen below the mantle placing Sheila at the scene of the attack on Nevill in the kitchen. Forensic expert Peter Sutherst confirmed this, saying: “The red object is not paint from the mantle shelf. It is more likely to be a particle of red nail varnish from Sheila Caffell’s right foot since it is a close match in hue to her varnish and also matches damage to the varnish on her right big toe.”[4] As you can see from the page on the rifle, it was a firearm that was very easy for anyone to use. It was lightweight, and having long fingernails is not an issue for millions of women who work in a variety of jobs as well as cleaning the house or looking after children. The prosecution argument about Sheila’s nails being an impediment to her dexterity was simply not a valid one.

DNA Exhibits

All DNA exhibits, including Sheila’s night dress but apart from the sound moderator, were destroyed in 1996 and dumped at an incineration site off the North Circular Road in London despite a court order to preserve them. [5] No one has been investigated or charged for this wholly illegal act in the destruction of valuable exhibits in a case where a whole life tariff prisoner maintains innocence.

Sheila Didn’t know how to use a gun

It is an absurd suggestion that the daughter of a farmer, who grew up on a farm during the 60’s and 70’s before gun laws were tightened, who had a brother who used rifles and who herself went to shooting parties, did not know how to fire a weapon. This aside, even if Sheila had never actually picked up a gun before, there was one sitting on the settle in front of her in the scullery on the night of the tragedies, the magazine loaded and ready to fire and more bullets on the side waiting to be used. The family were all shot at very close range, most shots within a few inches, the furthest being 4 feet away. In a phrase similar to that of author Scott Lomax: “ this distance how could anyone be expected to miss?”

David Boutflour and Anthony Pargeter had already agreed with DCI Jones in a meeting that Sheila was capable of carrying out the killings.[6] Both of them were experienced in the use of firearms. David told the court, after being asked repeatedly by Mr Rivlin QC for the Defence, that he thought he had seen Sheila firing off a gun at a shooting party in Scotland, though in the first part of the transcript he appears not to remember it at all! Peter Eaton told the City of London Police he too had seen Sheila with a gun but this only appears in his handwritten drafts and is omitted from the final typed statement.

Sheila’s Background

Sheila Caffell was a divorced mother of two, who'd previously had a successful modelling career - even having breast enhancements to help pursue her work. Sheila had had a number of pregnancies, including a miscarriage and two abortions, the first when she was 15 years old and another one whilst she was dating Colin Caffell before they married. Her relationship with Colin had broken down while she was in hospital for a long period owing to complications whilst carrying the twins and Colin by his own admission met another woman before the twins were born. Jeremy say’s that Sheila suffered what he now realizes was post natal depression. It is well documented that postpartum psychosis can lead to long-term psychotic disorders, particularly as Sheila had also been a user of cocaine, amphetamine and cannabis.[7]

Sheila a single parent, the Twins & Social Services

Sheila has frequently been described as a socialite and part of the “Chelsea Set.” This might have been true in her earlier days, but Sheila had become ill and this was beginning to impact upon her relationship with her friends, family and, perhaps most crucially, her children.

Sheila’s contact with social services can only be traced back in documents as far as the 1st of August 1981. There were concerns by social workers at this point about her ability to seek medical advice promptly when the twins were ill and there are references to Daniel sustaining scalds and a burn to parts of his body, including his torso and face, and having an ear infection that had been left unattended. Sheila was described as forgetful and disorganized but there were no notes made about her having a psychiatric illness at this time and her GP had confirmed that she had been taking prescribed sedatives. [8]

The next conference on file was during March 1982 where it is stated that the children were being fostered by day foster parents. This is contrary to what the relatives had told police, although there are no notes as to the specific reason for fostering, and again there are no details as to why Sheila was admitted twice to hospital up until this point. One can’t help feeling that already social services were not investigating the cause of injuries to the children or assessing the cause of Sheila’s admissions to hospital which might have alerted them to the fact that there were issues with Sheila’s mental health and that the children were in danger. [9] There are no references to suggest that they might have discussed the twins' well-being with their father. It is baffling as to why this was not done.

Sheila had a number of social workers allocated to her during this period and they were involved in organizing day nursery places for the boys. One social worker described Sheila as being “Nervous, and lacked confidence.” He goes on to note that she was a heavy cigar smoker although at this time he felt that her care of the children was “adequate” which would imply she was just about sufficient in managing to care for the children. During December 1982 the case was closed.

On the 4th of May 1983, Nicholas sustained a head injury which was caused “it was thought by him falling from a taxi.” [10] The police were involved and confirmed this had happened. Sue Ford, then girlfriend of Jeremy Bamber, stated that Jeremy had told her that Nicholas had been injured when Sheila had pushed [Nicholas] from the taxi. Sue Ford also details in her statements that Farhad “Freddie” Emami had told her that Sheila used to punch the boys in the face and that Jeremy was concerned that Sheila was unable to cope and had expressed a wish to help look after the children, but he had little time to do this as he was often working long hours on the farm in Essex while Sheila and the twins lived in London.[11]

On 1st June 1983 Sheila had contacted social services but there are no records of what this call was about or even if this call and the problems were followed up.

Sheila Caffell was then referred to a private psychologist at St Andrews Hospital in Northampton during August 1983. Dr Hugh Ferguson stated that this was the first time he had seen her and diagnosed her “as in a state of acute psychosis.” After about four weeks of treatment, he says she was discharged. Below is an extract from The web site about the condition, and gives us an insight into how Sheila was thinking, what she was experiencing and the causes of psychotic episodes:

Confused thinking

When acutely ill, people with psychotic symptoms experience disordered thinking. The everyday thoughts that let us live our daily lives become confused and don’t join up properly.


A delusion is a false belief held by a person which is not held by others of the same cultural background.


The person sees, hears, feels, smells or tastes something that is not actually there. The hallucination is often of disembodied voices which no one else can hear.

What causes psychosis?

The causes of psychosis are not fully understood. They are likely to be a combination of hereditary and other factors. It is probable that some people are born with a predisposition to develop this kind of illness, and that certain things — for example, stress or use of drugs such as marijuana, LSD or speed — can trigger their first episode.

Some people experience a brief form of psychosis which lasts only a few days or weeks. Some people experience a few episodes of psychosis only. Some people experience psychosis associated with a longer-term illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

LISTEN:'s podcast on psychosis.[12]

Sheila was diagnosed with the condition of Paranoid Schizophrenia. This illness is chronic, and it needed to be managed in the long term by medication and contact with a psychiatric nurse. Short-term care in specialist hospitals can be ineffective as, often, the patient has a relapse within a fairly short time period. Dr Ferguson had recommended that Nevill transfer her to the care of the NHS as he had been paying for private treatment.

The Bamber family were worried about Sheila’s condition. Nevill, June and Jeremy had very little understanding of her illness. This was because of a number of factors. Firstly, Nevill and June wanted to keep Sheila’s illness very low key and it is likely they thought that, after a short spell in hospital, the problem would be ‘fixed.’ They had not told the rest of the family the extent of her condition. Socially, they were middle class and affluent and were considered pillars of the community. As such they would have been subconsciously concerned for Sheila and her children having to cope with the added social stigma of Sheila being mentally ill as well as suffering from the condition itself.

The Bamber family, like many others, suffered in silence with little knowledge and understanding. Because of Doctor-Patient confidentiality Nevill, June and Jeremy (and social services) had no idea that Sheila had thoughts about harming herself or of harming her children – but these thoughts are very real and are documented. Jeremy himself knew that Sheila was ill, but he had no idea of how to cope with her psychotic episodes and again had no knowledge of the thought’s she was having which she had already shared with her psychologist.

Returning to Sheila’s contact with social services, the records again in September 1983 note that the nursery for the twins had contacted them expressing concern for the children as they had heard that Sheila was in hospital. The twins were then absent from the nursery for a month and it is noted that Social Services “presumed” the twins were with Sheila’s parents. Then on the 7th of October 1983, Sheila contacted social services herself by phone and explained that she “...had recovered from a 3 month breakdown.” She told them that she was concerned for the care of her children and stated that at the time her husband had no suitable accommodation. Social services seldom mention Colin Caffell, the children’s father, and it seems from statements that no attempt was made by the services to contact him to discuss the well-being of his two sons. During 1985, Colin had the children only three days a week and says in his unedited police statement of the 11th September 1985, that he was concerned about Sheila's associates and that her psychologist had contacted him directly to discuss this issue. Colin was not alerted to the fixed, false belief's Sheila held about the children. Clearly, the lack of communication between Sheila’s doctors, social services and her family compounded the events building up to the tragedies.

Dr Ferguson knew that Sheila Caffell had a serious mental illness having diagnosed psychosis and yet no one had alerted social services to this fact. Sheila would naturally be concerned over the care for her children and clearly did not want Social Services to know about the seriousness of her medical condition, preferring to refer to her psychosis as a “breakdown” which would imply something less serious, but she had admitted that she had been in St Andrews psychiatric hospital. Nevertheless, Sheila was reaching out for help and trying her best to obtain it from social services.

Sheila missed a meeting with the social worker on the 23th October 1983, but she was finally seen at her home on the 21st November 1983. Sheila wanted to take up a Hotel Receptionist course and was worried about the care of her children. The social worker did not note any problems or injuries to the children at this time, but noted that Sheila lacked confidence and was worried about having another episode of “depression.” At this point the case was closed.

Arguably, if we were to look comparatively at handling of Sheila's case by social services with the same signs in today’s society, we would feel that social services had not handled Sheila’s case well at all. There are no documents from Social Services appearing before 1982, and no statements have been obtained by the Defence from Dr Dodd’s, Sheila’s doctor who referred her from his Camden practice to Social Services, so we don't have a clear picture of Sheila's full medical history and cannot trace her earlier contact with social services.

The warning signs appear above, and social services should have been called back into the case long before the tragedies in August 1985, but this never happened.

Sheila & Farhad “Freddie” Emami

Sheila had met Freddie, a mature 41 year old, back in 1981. Although he is often described as Sheila’s boyfriend, Freddie was married and called himself Sheila’s confidant and friend, to whom she turned to for help and advice. Freddie said that Sheila had a “deep dislike” for her mother June. [13] He described Sheila as having “a very quick and violent temper which she would lose over the simplest things.” He also says that about 10 months before the tragedies Sheila became depressed and withdrawn, he also said that she would not discuss all of her problems with him, but whenever she returned from staying at White House Farm she would be even more depressed because of June preaching to her about her lifestyle. Colin Caffell also said that Sheila had a quick temper and that Sheila’s condition always deteriorated rapidly after visiting her parents.[14] According to Freddie, June did not approve with Sheila “making love” with boyfriends and said that she "should remember God."

Freddie said that before her “first breakdown” she blamed herself for Nicholas falling out of a taxi because she was not concentrating and only thinking of her mother’s “religious rantings.” Freddie did not have contact with Sheila during the period she was being treated. It was alleged by other witnesses that Freddie was involved in drugs. About a month after Sheila came out of St Andrews for the first time, she contacted Freddie and he gave her money. He said she appeared well but he could see that she had not completely recovered. He goes on to describe an incident which occurred the following time he went to her apartment. Freddie describes one of Sheila’s psychotic episodes which started during a call with a friend. Freddie says:

“During the call the phone went dead. Sheila suddenly became hysterical, mumbling about the phone being bugged. She became like someone possessed ranting and raving. She was striking herself and beating the wall with her fists. I tried to calm her but she did not seem to hear me. I became extremely frightened not only for her but for myself. She kept talking about the Devil and God, and stated that God was sitting opposite her and unlike what her step mother said he in fact loved her. I contacted her ex-mother in law and asked her to come round. This aggravated the situation and Sheila became even more violent and abusive. Her mother in law called and found a prescription for Sheila’s drugs and asked me to get them for her. I went to the chemist and when I retuned I was met at the front door by the mother in law who was leaving. She told me Sheila had kicked her out. I went in and tried to pacify Sheila but was unable to do so. I became extremely concerned for my own safety. I telephoned Sheila’s Doctor and a short while later one of her partners arrived. Sheila refused to let him examine her shouting that he was trying to poison her. By this time she had become completely irrational. The doctor eventually left without being able to do anything. Being unable to do anything I contacted another doctor who arrived shortly afterwards. Again he was unable to do anything because Sheila would not allow him near her.

He wrote a short note which he handed to me and asked me to hand to Sheila’s GP and gave her a stronger drug, whilst the first doctor was there Tara’s husband called to collect his daughter who was staying with Sheila. I had arranged for this as I felt something nasty might happen. I was extremely scared for everyone’s safety. At that time I felt that Sheila may use violence towards someone."

Freddie goes on to say that after Sheila came out of hospital, he discussed that episode with her and she could not remember anything about it and that she believed he had made it up. He also recalled that during the psychotic episode he witnessed, Sheila could not recognise anyone who came to the flat and “believed everyone was trying to hurt or kill her.”

It is very obvious, even to an untrained observer, that Sheila was very ill. It is also clear that her delusions were very real to her and it would also follow that if one is of the belief that someone is trying to hurt or kill you then you might adopt “attack is the best form of Defence.” For a woman who was seriously ill to be living in a house with an arsenal of weapons and ammunition (which she definitely knew how to use) I have no doubt in saying this was a very dangerous situation. Leaving guns around the house was irresponsible, and we know from individuals independent of Jeremy that Nevill did leave guns around the house. Michael Deckers, for example, stated: “There was always a gun at the farm in the first room as you walked in.”[15] Anthony Pargeter had told the court he left his rifle at the farm in the downstairs toilet. Police found weapons in the upstairs and downstairs office leaning against the wall when they raided the house.[16] Even if these weapons were not left out, there was only in a standard cupboard under the stairs where they were stored - where Sheila could have accessed them at any time.

Sheila’s hospitalisation, medication, and the Statements of Dr Ferguson

Part of client/patient confidentiality meant that Nevill and June Bamber would not have been made aware of the thoughts that Sheila was having. It is only in Dr Feguson’s Statements, some of which were undisclosed at trial, as were Sheila’s medical records and diaries, that we start to understand the thoughts that she was having.

Dr Ferguson had diagnosed acute psychosis and later confirmed Schizophrenia. He described her as “a difficult patient to treat, but once on medication and mending well, became a completely different person.” Dr Ferguson also said that he was not happy about her leaving the hospital so soon and felt she needed follow up visits from a psychiatric nurse.

In his statement of the 8th of August 1985 he describes her treatment at St Andrews during 1983:

“I found that Sheila had bizarre delusions about possession by the devil and complex ideas about having sex with her twin sons. She thought the sons would seduce her and saw evil in both of them. In particular she thought Nicholas was a woman hater and potential murderer. These feelings expressed where clear symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia.”

Dr Ferguson details in his 30th of September 1985 statement, which was not referred to at trial and was not even typed up:

“Her delusional ideas on admission included her boyfriend Freddie being the devil: there was a very religious basis to her delusional thinking. Her psychotic symptoms receded briefly on medication but when this was reduced she again flared up into paranoid interpretations of the nursing staff, becoming at times quite hostile and believing that she was being monitored and televised, and that there was an attempt by the devil to take away her godliness, with many people around her being seen to be involved in the conspiracy.”

“I have been shown an extract from the statement of her boyfriend Freddie in which he describes her violent conduct immediately preceding her admission on 3rd March 1985. I had no knowledge of her using physical violence at any time but someone in her condition faced with what she regarded as real pressing fears could respond with physical aggression directed to property, to herself or to others. There is no reason to doubt what Freddie says.”

When shown the statement of another witness to Sheila’s behaviour he states:

“I have been shown and have read the statement made by HELEN GRIMSTER in which Sheila is described on 30th March as having been “very strange”, talking of having contemplated suicide on more than one occasion and of her belief that she was a white witch and had to get rid of evil in the world. Whilst I have no knowledge of this conversation other than what I have read I would regard these abnormalities as consistent with the condition from which she suffered.”

In reference to drug abuse and fostering he said:

“I have referred in my previous statements to Sheila’s use of cannabis and cocaine. Whilst these drugs themselves would not have any effect upon the medication prescribed I was concerned about her using them and advised her strongly not to. Such drugs can alter the perception of the user, chemically producing disturbed perceptions. In the case of a schizophrenic patient such drugs can potentially aggravate the existing psychosis. I have been asked to express an opinion as to how she might have reacted if she became aware of a proposal to remove the children from her care. I would expect a very negative reaction. She would resist it in any way she knew. It would threaten whatever precarious balances she had. Her precise responses would be difficult to predict: she could have withdrawn into depression or have become angry and vitriolic.”

“Whilst in 1983 she expressed fears of harming or doing violence to her children that fear did not seem to recur. I find it difficult to conceptualise her harming her children or her father but I could conceive of her harming her mother or herself. Of course I cannot state categorically that she was incapable of doing harm to her family.”

The mystery of this 30th September 1985 statement remains: Why was this last statement not disclosed at the trial?

As we know Sheila had become ill and at times appeared ‘well’ again but Schizophrenia is an illness which has to be managed effectively by institutions, psychiatric treatment and psychologists over long periods and also by including the use of regular medications to stabilize moods. Drugs are not always successful in treating the symptoms of hearing voices and having delusions. It is a condition which one has to ‘live with’ and it does not just correct itself or go away over night and the illness has a stronger hold on younger people than those who are older. It is an illness which has both "positive" symptoms which are hallucinations, delusion, etc and "negative" symptoms such as social awkwardness and withdrawal. All of these had been displayed by Sheila.

Sheila's Medication

Haloperidol is an anti-psychotic medication very commonly prescribed during the 80s and 90s. The dosage is adjusted for each individual so that the psychosis is controlled but the patient is not overly troubled with the well-known possible side-effects like muscle stiffening. However, not all patients will have these side-effects. Haloperidol can be given by injection or orally. There is an advantage to giving injection - it ensures that the patient receives the medication as not all patients will comply in taking oral medication. If and when side-effects occur they can be reduced by another medication - Procyclidine which is taken orally either as a regular medication or on an "if necessary" basis. Dr Angeloglou stated [16a] that Sheila had been prescribed Procyclidine on 29 April 1985 (three months before the killings), when she received 120 x 5mg tablets which could be taken up to 10mg morning and evening. According Dr Angeloglou she was not given any more which carries a clear implication that she was not affected by the Haloperidol side-effects.

It was common practice to also prescribe an anti-depressant because anti-psychotic medication can cause the patient's mood to "dip". Depression and suicide are well-documented as being associated with Schizophrenia For this reason Sheila was prescribed Anafranil 10mg x 1 to be taken at night, later increased to 10mg x 3 to be taken at night but these were last prescribed to her on the 15th of January 1985.

Sheila Caffell was prescribed 200mg IM (intra-muscular) injection of Haloperidol on a monthly basis by Dr Ferguson and this was administered on 2nd May and 11th June, both 1985. She complained to Dr Ferguson that she was unable to sleep and he then recommended that she should be given the reduced dose of 150mg at her 11th July 1985 appointment. Both Dr Angeloglou and Dr Wilkinson say in their statements that Dr Wilkinson had only administered 100mg. So, Sheila’s dosage was halved - which is not in accordance with usual practice guidelines. Dosages should be adjusted in smaller increments, and it is unclear why the dosage administered was below that recommended by Dr Ferguson. So by the 7th of August 1985, the date of the tragedies, the effectiveness of her last injection would have worn off and her psychotic symptoms would have been poorly controlled and the possibility of any side-effects would also have diminished, thus she would have experienced no difficulties with co-ordination. The prosecution had argued that muscle co-ordination would have rendered Sheila unable to load the rile and fire it at close range. Based on the now fully disclosed statements above we know that she would have had no physical problems carrying out the shootings.

Dr Ferguson even stated that she was “fairly erratic in attendance for appointments and I believe in taking her medicine.” He also stated that her psychosis on admission to St Andrews the second time was not drug induced but “would certainly be exacerbated by abuse of illicit drugs. [17] Sheila was also menstruating when the tragedy happened. It is thought that hormonal imbalances could have contributed to the psychotic episode which caused her to kill the family. The toxicologist reported that he tested Sheila’s blood and urine for the following: opiates, barbiturates, amphetamines, Lysergide (LSD), benzodiazepine drugs, and alcohol and all tests were negative. Sheila tested positive for the following: Cannabis in her urine, haloperidol in her liver. No drugs were indicated in her stomach contents. So it seems likely that Sheila had not been taking all of the tablets prescribed to her which included Anafranil, an antidepressant; Noctec to aid sleeping; Procyclidine used to treat side effects of Haloperidol; Triludan for allergic reactions. The toxicologist also reported that there would have been interaction between Cannabis use and Haloperidol.[18]

By 2002, Dr Ferguson had made a statement to the Defence, which included the issue of a letter written by Colin Caffell to Nevill Bamber prior to the tragedies, in which he presented the scenario that he take over care of the children. Dr Ferguson said that if Nevill had pleaded Colin Caffell’s case to Sheila, this may have had a catastrophic effect, and that she “may have projected on her father a concept of evil.”

Dr Ferguson had arranged for Sheila to see a psychiatric nurse in London when she returned home, but Sheila was staying at White House Farm in Essex. One wonders why he nor Sheila's GP had not informed social services about the extent of her illness and advised that she and her family would need considerable support.

Essex police had not taken statements from a large number of Sheila's friends. A handwritten note by DS Stan Jones states that he should take a statement from Barbara Wilson regarding her relaying to Ann Eaton that Sheila had told her that "all people are bad and should be killed." Curiously, Wilson's statements show that she was never asked if Sheila had told her this and there is no other trace of this event in the statements of Ann Eaton. [19]

Tragically, mentally ill women do kill their children and their families, and it has become more prevalent over the last three decades, particularly in the United States where a large portion of citizens own guns. This is a large area of research which I won’t develop any further here. Moreover, there are recent cases of mothers killing their children in the news in the UK, including mentally ill Sonia Bellfield, 29, who stabbed her two year old toddler to death having been seen two days previously by social workers. Paranoid Schizophrenic Aisling Murray, 23, stabbed her daughter to death 52 times. In this case it was believed that social services were under-resourced and her social worker was inadequately supervised. 29-year-old Vivian Gamor killed her children in a psychotic episode and also had delusions about religion very similar to Sheila. Vivian thought that Jesus was her twin, but social services had granted her unsupervised access to her children when she killed them.

It is apparent in all cases, including that of Sheila Caffell, that Social Services inadequately assessed the risk that these women posed to their children.

Sheila Caffell

Many mothers who killed their children were psychotic, depressed or suicidal. Some of the major motives for maternal filicide were altruistic, killing out of love where the mother believes death to be in the child’s best interest, i.e where a suicidal mother may not wish to leave her child motherless. A psychotic mother might believe she is saving her child from a fate worse than death. An acutely psychotic mother can kill her child without any comprehensible motive, for example by following command hallucinations to kill. Neglectful or abusive mothers were often substance abusers. Recent studies have found that psychotic mothers who had committed filicide often killed suddenly without much planning.

For more information on Paranoid Schizophrenia and other mental illnesses visit


[0] Dr Ferguson, transcript, November 1985

[1] 7th May 1986, Statement, Dr Vanezis

[2] Peter Sutherst report, 01.08.08, 3.1 Film strip ID

[3] Scenes of Crime exhibit list, reference numbers. Forensic ballistics report of Philip Boyes, 11th May 2012, details gun residue is easily wiped off hands.

[4] 22.07.10, Report, Peter Sutherst

[5] 30.03.00 Officers Report, DC Whiddon

[6] 14.08.91 Ann Eaton, COLP, Statement

[7] 30th September, 1986, Dr Ferguson Handwritten Statement.

[8]30th September, 1985, Michael Abel, Statement, Camden Social Services

[9] Ibid

[10] Ibid

[11] 16th September 1986, Statement Suzette Ford


[13] 8th August 1985, Farhad Emami, Statement

[14] Over the Rainbow, 1992, Colin Caffell, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1994

[15] Statements: J. Bouttell, Michael Deckers previously undisclosed undated.

[16] Anthony Pargeter trial transcript, 19.09.85 Statement of PC Rozga, SOCO Photographs

[16a] 12.09.85 & 20.09.85 Dr Angeloglou Statement, 09.10.85 Dr Wilkinson, Statement, collective statements of Dr Ferguson.

[17] 8.8.85 Dr Ferguson, Statement

[18] 04.10.85 Alexander Allan, Toxicologist, Statement

[19] DS Jones, hand written police actions HOLMES 45/22