Support at the Scene

Within an hour of the bodies being discovered by firearms officers Jeremy Bamber, still at the scene, was asked to write out a formal consent for the police to take out and burn carpets and other material from inside the house.[1] He was isolated at this time, having to make decisions with no support. After calling his girlfriend Julie Mugford, who was not taken to the scene but to Jeremy’s home at Head Street in Goldhanger, Jeremy only joined her later at that morning. And later that day Jeremy had to make a statement to police about what had happened and the following day he was again asked to make a statement regarding Sheila. These were very short statements during which he was asked the facts.

During the two months after the tragedies but before he was charged with murder Jeremy, like many other victims was not asked to make a Victim Impact Statement of any variety. It is not always clear that these are separate statements made in addition to ‘witness statements.’[2] Therefore, Jeremy was given no opportunity to talk to the authorities about the impact the tragedy had had on his life. In the long run this would have supported his claims of innocence to this day because the prosecution case against Jeremy was mostly circumstantial and Jeremy was criticised for his behaviour following the tragedies. He was offered no counselling at this time, and no advice by judicial agencies or help in recounting the trauma he had just suffered extensively over a number of hours. From approximately 3am until 9am Jeremy was in the company of strangers and unaware of what was happening inside the family home. We now know that there were in excess of 74 officers at the scene that day.[3] The sight of police swarming all over the house, even from where he was kept in the back of a police car on Pages Lane, must have been overwhelming. Evidence also shows that contact with criminal justice agencies, such as Jeremy’s prolonged exposure to police and firearms teams and detectives can exacerbate trauma.[4]

Below Jeremy’s response to some of the questions we asked him about his experiences of the trauma.

Q. Were you offered Counselling or Victim Support at any time?

A: “Not that I remember, I have a vague memory of a police officer saying something about a woman that could talk to me, he didn’t think it was important and I declined the offer. I didn’t know anything about Victim Support and it wasn’t explained to me how she might be able to help – I can’t remember if she was Victim Support, an FLO or otherwise. It was a fleeting comment made to me really. I guess I thought that my relatives would support me.”

Q: Did any friends or family provide you with support initially?

A: “Yes, Julie Mugford and Ann Eaton made attempts. If Brett Collins hadn’t been overseas I would have called him in the first instance not Julie. Brett provided friendship and support once he returned and my friend Virginia was very supportive, but it was difficult when she called me because Julie would get very angry.”

Q. Was there anyone in the Criminal Justice System who you felt was compassionate and supportive?

A. “Taff Jones supported my innocence and I felt he was on my side but I wouldn’t describe him as compassionate or supportive so the answer to your question is no.”

Supporting Jeremy’s comments is the fact that there is no documentary evidence to suggest that Jeremy was offered Victim Support, an FLO, or professional counselling. His relatives were offered an FLO later when Jeremy was charged with murder which suggests that the police never even considered the tragedy as a ‘homicide’.

[1] J.Bamber,07.07.85, Hand written response to police request to destroy carpets before 9am. (AT-07-41a)

[2]ITA, Pg. 21, and ,

[3] Collective of statements and police reports contrasting with previous figures of 24

[4] ITA, Pg. 15.