Jeremy Bamber


This is a story about a telephone call, a silencer, an ex-girlfriend and a schizophrenic. It’s a story about a mass murder involving two potential culprits, neither of them conclusive. One of the suspects, Sheila Caffell, is dead. The other, Jeremy Bamber, is serving five life sentences for something he says he didn’t do.

On October 28, 1986, Bamber was found guilty of killing his adoptive father and mother, his step-sister and her twin sons. The jury that convicted him was divided, and after nine and a half hours of deliberation still could not reach a unanimous verdict – not necessarily that long in a murder trial. But the judge said he would settle for a majority verdict of 10:2.

Unlike some cases, even now, to the objective eye, it is easy to see why they remained torn but large parts of the press and public however were in no doubt: Jeremy Bamber was guilty.

The facts of the case are these.

In the early hours of Wednesday, August 7, 1985, 61 year-olds Nevill and June Bamber, their adopted daughter Sheila “Bambi” Caffell (28) and her two 6 year-old children, Daniel and Nicholas, were found dead from gunshot wounds at their home in Essex.

In the mire of possibilities surrounding events that night, one thing at least is certain: the killer was either Jeremy Bamber or his step-sister Sheila Caffell, a schizophrenic.

Jeremy Bamber had alerted the police to the crime by telephone at about 3.30am, telling them that his father had just phoned him saying: “Please come over… Your sister has gone crazy and has got a gun.”

This call ensured that the possibility of the perpetrator being some deranged drifter or burglar or jealous ex-lover could be discounted, and fixed the possibility that Bamber himself was responsible for the killings at precisely 50 percent. Either he was telling the truth, and Caffell had shot her family before turning the gun on herself, or he was lying, in which case he was surely responsible for the slaughter himself.

The bodies were found at the Bambers’ farm in Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex, seven miles from Jeremy Bamber’s house. Between them, the five victims had been shot 25 times with a .22 Anschutz semi-automatic rifle, mostly at extremely close range.

Sheila’s six-year-old twins were found in their beds, and were probably shot first, in their sleep. Daniel had been shot five times through the back of the head. Nicholas had been shot three times in the face. Nevill and June Bamber were also shot in bed, but had not died instantaneously. June had crawled across the bedroom, but died having been shot seven times.

Despite having been shot twice, Nevill Bamber made it from the bedroom to the kitchen where, after what looked like a violent struggle, he was found dead, slumped on a stool, having received a further six shots to the head and neck. The kitchen phone was found off the hook, connected to an unknown line. Sheila Caffell was found dead by her parents’ bed with two gunshot wounds to her chin and throat. Her right hand was lying across the butt of a .22 rifle, which was across her chest, pointed upwards towards her head.

That Thursday’s Daily Mail – “Drugs probe after massacre by mother of twins” – expressed no doubt. And certainly Sheila’s wounds, together with Bamber’s phone call, led police to treat the case only as if she could have committed the murders and had then committed suicide. The police were so certain about the case at this stage that shortly afterwards many items from the scene of the crime, including bloodstained bedding and carpets, were destroyed.

But the other scenario – that Bamber himself was the killer – endured. There were two sets of fingerprints on the gun – Sheila’s and Jeremy’s. As the days passed, police suspicions changed. Fifty-three days after the bodies were found, Jeremy Bamber was charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty but a year later he was convicted of all five murders.

Sentencing him to life imprisonment, Mr Justice Drake described him as having “a warped, callous and evil mind” and condemned his conduct as “evil beyond belief.” But the uncertainties about the entire series of events on the night of the murder, and the three days that followed it, remain.

Bamber has always protested his innocence and, in September this year, made a second application for his case to be referred back to the Court of Appeal – an application that supporters of the campaign for his eventual release are confident he will win.

The campaign (mounted by the civil liberties group Justice For All) has been backed by barristers Isabelle Gillard and David Martin Sperry and lawyer Ewan Smith whose work in similar cases includes the West Midlands Serious Crime Squad appeals. They claim to have new evidence that raises serious doubts about the validity of Bamber’s conviction, focusing on questionable forensic evidence, the judge’s guidance to the jury, police incompetence, and even possible fabrication of evidence.

Is this one of those cases where neither guilt nor innocence can be absolutely proven ? The announcement that Bamber’s solicitors had asked the Home Secretary to refer his case back to the Court of Appeal was greeted with a certain amount of disbelief: Jeremy Bamber was one of the most reviled criminals of the 1980s. The murders, if he had committed them, were premeditated and unbelievably callous – not least the two children were possibly killed simply to implicate Sheila Caffell.

If he was guilty, his motives for the murders were obvious.

Bamber was said to have actively disliked his adoptive family and he stood to inherit an estate of 300 acres and over £430,000 from his parents’ wills. He had already admitted stealing £980 in cash from the family’s caravan site five months before the murders, offering the court a blunt explanation for the theft: “greed.”

But it was arguably Bamber’s conduct before and after the killings that really turned the tide of opinion against him.

In the press and in court Bamber was portrayed as arrogant and pompous. In an early exchange with the prosecution, when the QC accused him of not telling the truth, Bamber loftily replied: “That is what you have got to establish.”

It emerged in court that Bamber often complained to the family about not being made a company director, and evidently aspired to a more glamorous lifestyle than his £170-a-week farm job afforded him. He had celebrated the caravan burglary by drinking pink champagne, and was generally portrayed as someone who longed for the good life – much was made of his sun-bed and his plan to buy a kit car.

It was said Bamber detested his parents because, having adopted him and Sheila (who was not a blood relative of Bamber’s) as babies, they had then sent him to boarding school. It was alleged that he disliked Sheila and resented her for her success in London as a model and the allowances made for her illness.

Bamber was photographed crying at the family’s funeral but in the days immediately following the discovery of the bodies, relatives reported that he had shown little distress, and seemed interested only in his parents’ financial assets.

During the 53 days between the massacre and being charged, he was said to have spent freely and generally enjoyed himself, even travelling to Amsterdam. Immediately after the funeral he went on holiday to the South of France.

“He wanted to sell everything,” said his ex-girlfriend. Through Sotheby’s, he sold a clock, three paintings and some of the silver bequeathed to him, saying later that he wanted to pay death duties without breaking up the farm.

The tabloids crucified Bamber, particularly with the story that he had approached them with soft-porn pictures of Sheila Caffell (by now more frequently called “Bambi”) from her modelling days, for which he wanted £100,000. In court, although the police doctor described how, when informed of the deaths, Bamber broke down and cried and then vomited, other officers said he was “unusually cool” and “very calm” and that shortly afterwards he said he was “starving” and made himself breakfast.

But other than this emotive testimony, the evidence was slim. Bamber’s fingerprints had been found on the murder weapon. But so had Sheila Caffell’s. So, incidentally, had the prints of a police officer who picked up the gun with his bare hands. Bamber had explained how his fingerprints came to be on the murder weapon, telling police that on the day before the murders he had taken the gun out to shoot rabbits.

The prosecution provided no other forensic evidence against Bamber from the scene, from his clothes, or his person – no hairs, blood or bruising, no incriminating fibres and no gunshot residues. This was partly because police procedure on the case had been unimaginably inadequate.

Besides the officer’s prints on the gun, the police had destroyed the bedding and carpets from the bedrooms at Bamber’s request – he said they were too upsetting – and left other examinations too late to be meaningful. After an inquiry by the Chief Inspectorate of Constabulary, in March 1989, the then Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, endorsed 18 recommendations to all police forces for future investigations. But a 19-month inquiry by the Police Complaints Authority decided that no action was to be taken against officers despite 26 specific complaints by Bamber – including 13 allegations of tampering with evidence and perjury.

After the trial Essex’s Deputy Chief Constable, Ronald Stone, claimed: “We were duped by a very clever young man.” However, the prosecution’s case had rested on three pieces of bizarre circumstantial evidence, all of which had been needlessly provided by the “very clever young man” himself.

According to the prosecution the phone call that Bamber claimed to have received from his father had clearly been intended to establish Bamber’s whereabouts at the time of the crime, placing him away from the scene and also placing the blame firmly with Sheila. Yet if it was intended as an alibi, the phone call – besides narrowing guilt to either himself or Sheila – actually left Bamber open to several difficult questions.

If Sheila had indeed gone berserk with a gun, wounding Nevill and June Bamber in bed, why had Nevill Bamber left his wife alone, at Sheila Caffell’s mercy, to go to the kitchen and telephone Jeremy ? And why, having reached downstairs to the phone, would he call Jeremy instead of dialling 999 ? It was suggested that Nevill Bamber would not have wanted to involve the police with the family’s problems, though this would seem unlikely, especially as Jeremy was not close enough to Sheila to be the most obvious person to pacify her.

Furthermore, Jeremy Bamber told the police that his father’s call had ended abruptly (“the line went dead”) and that when he phoned his father back “it was engaged each time”. Would it technically have been possible for Jeremy Bamber to dial out and call the police if his phone was still connected to his father’s line? And, if the telephone was, as Bamber said, engaged, who else did his father phone ?

According to a police statement, the British Telecom telephonist on duty that night said that when she was asked by the police to check the line, she could “tell that the receiver was off the hook… I could hear a dog barking.”

Shortly before police entered the house, the telephonist was asked to check again. “The line was still open. The only thing I could hear was a very slight moving sound.”

In order for this statement to be true, Nevill Bamber must have abruptly ended his call to his son, and called someone else, who was never identified and never came forward. If he simply dropped the receiver while talking to his son, Jeremy Bamber would not have been able to get a line and phone the police.

But simply because Bamber could not explain his father’s actions, it did not necessarily follow that he had not received that call. The prosecution could not prove that he had not.

The most vital piece of evidence against Bamber was a silencer found in the Bamber’s farmhouse several days after the murders. It was discovered in the gun cupboard on August 10 by relatives of the deceased – June Bamber’s niece, Christine Ann Eaton, and her brother, David Boutflour – who had gone to the farm to secure and remove the remaining firearms. They admitted they were “looking for clues”, but emphasised “it was quite a surprise for us to find such particular essential pieces of gun lying in the cupboard.”

Various members of the family saw it and in their statements reported seeing that it had not just a grey hair on it but traces of red paint, a large scratch, and a dot of blood the size of a match-head.

According to Bamber’s supporters, of the 30 of 40 police officers who had already searched the farmhouse, at least three had searched the gun cupboard, even removing items (such as ammunition) from the very box that contained the silencer. Yet none of them came across it.

The relatives took the silencer to Ann Eaton’s house, but it was not collected by police until the evening of August 12 – five days after the killings. It was examined on August 13 at the Home Office’s forensic science laboratory at Huntingdon and returned to Essex police the same day.

Thirty-six days after the killings, forensic scientist John Hayward examined the inside of the silencer and found blood that, he concluded, was of the same type as Sheila Caffell’s – an example of what is known as “backspatter.”

This became the pivotal detail of the case because if the blood in the silencer was Sheila Caffell’s, she had clearly not committed suicide. With the silencer attached, the gun would have become too long for her to have shot herself in the chin with it. Secondly, she could not, of course, have returned the silencer to the gun cupboard.

The prosecution’s logic dictated that if Sheila Caffell could not have committed suicide, then she was murdered. If she was murdered, then Jeremy Bamber’s story about the phone call was a lie. And if Jeremy Bamber was lying, then it could only have been for one reason. He was guilty of murdering her, her children and Nevill and June Bamber.

Like the police officer and the gun, the Boutflours and the Eatons had omitted to wear gloves when handling the silencer, even though they had realised its importance. And they had kept it at their house from Saturday until Monday evening before it was collected by the police.

At the trial the family’s version of events surrounding the silencer did not entirely tally, perhaps not surprisingly, as a year had passed since its discovery.

Some of them asserted that they had seen a grey hair on the silencer (similar to Nevill Bamber’s) – something the Judge brought up later, telling the jury that John Hayward “was then asked about the grey hair that had been seen” even though the hair had never been produced in court. It was said to have been lost by the police in transit.

David Boutflour was asked if the silencer was in the same box as “an ABU carrier bag.” “I do not recall,” he replied. “It may well have been in the second box.”

Ann Eaton could not remember who had contacted the police (“probably me”) and who had moved the silencer, answering: “I could have taken it upstairs, or my husband…” But, as she pointed out: “I never knew we were going to be put through all this.”

Those convinced of Bamber’s innocence would argue it was a happy coincidence that the family made such an important discovery and that Bamber, the adoptive son, was thus prevented from claiming the family inheritance.

Apart from the traces of blood, there was nothing to indicate that the silencer had been used. Malcolm Fletcher, a firearms expert testifying for the prosecution, said: “I have been unable to establish whether any of these bullets or bullet fragments have been fired through a sound moderator (silencer).”

He admitted under cross-examination that a .22 calibre weapon was “the least likely” weapon to produce “backspatter”, and that a silencer made it less likely still.

The jury were clearly troubled by the silencer, and sent out a question to the judge during their deliberations, asking: “What was the chance of the blood group being Mr and Mrs Bamber’s ?”

Smears of blood were found all over the rifle, particularly on the broken butt used to beat Nevill Bamber but forensic scientists were not able to identify whose blood it was, and could not even to group it.

Yet the prosecution forensic expert, John Hayward, was able to state that blood found inside the silencer was group A,1 and concluded that it was Sheila Caffell’s.

Bamber’s campaigners say that Hayward now accepts that the blood could be a mixture of Nevill Bamber’s (O,1) and/or June Bamber’s blood (A,2-1). In his statement of October 13, Hayward also noted that the blood group of prosecution witness Robert Boutflour, who was at the farmhouse when his son, David, found the silencer, was identical to Sheila Caffell’s.

Forensics and ballistics experts, including a senior lecturer at London Medical College, support the campaign’s view that “the possibility remains that there was blood from more than one source inside the silencer” and that “the way the blood tests were carried out could have resulted in an error in interpretation.”

At the trial, the Judge emphasised to the jury how, from experience, Hayward could judge the possibility of a mixture by appearance. Hayward had said the opposite and, in fact, under cross-examination, admitted he had never in all his experience seen “backsplatter” before.

The Bamber campaign says Hayward now admits the Judge “did not direct the jury accurately regarding his evidence.” In his summing up, Mr Justice Drake said: “The sound moderator is clearly of very great importance and the evidence relating to the sound moderator could, on its own, lead you to the conclusion that the defendant is guilty.”

The judge also floated two possibilities about the sequence of deaths that not even the prosecution had sought to prove: that June Bamber had been shot first, and also that Sheila Caffell had died before June Bamber. June Bamber’s blood-trails (which were under the body of Sheila Caffell) showed this was the one thing that had not happened.

Freddie Mead, an expert in forensic ballistics and a specialist in the investigation of accidents involving firearms for the army, told me: “The speculation in the Learned Judge’s summing up is totally wrong.” Mead’s conclusion is that “there aren’t any grounds to believe a silencer was involved, apart from that the silencer was found.”

According to the police and the prosecution, Jeremy Bamber’s supposedly carefully devised plan to murder his family and fake Sheila Caffell’s suicide was undone largely by one minor detail: he not only told his girlfriend about it, after he had murdered them, he dumped her. 31 days after the murders she went to the police.

According to Julie Mugford, Bamber had been talking about “the perfect murder” the previous summer. He had talked of sedating his parents and burning the farm down, but had then learnt that the insurance on the house and some of the antiques (including, interestingly, the clock) wasn’t high enough. She claimed Bamber had been “killing rats with his bare hands” to steel himself for the attack. Bamber denied this.

She also said he had bragged about hiring a mercenary to kill them for £2,000. In court, she testified that, hours before the murder, Jeremy Bamber had called her and said: “It’s tonight or never.” She claimed she told him not to be a fool, and he hung up. Whether she believed him or not, she did not phone the Bambers to warn them. Later that night (around the same time he called the police), Bamber called her again.
“He said: ‘Everything is going well. Don’t worry, something is wrong at the farm. I love you lots.’”
When Mugford arrived at the scene, she said that she and Bamber “went into the dining room for a cuddle and he said to me: ‘I should have been an actor’ and just laughed.”

Mugford claimed that hours after the bodies were discovered, with the house still full of police, he had told her a man called Matthew had carried out the killings, and that Matthew had instructed Sheila Caffell to shoot herself.

The jury (presumably) believed her but seemingly didn’t not believe Bamber’s story about the hitman. In court a Mr Matthew MacDonald denied that he was a hitman or that he had been offered £2,000, saying that he was “a plumber”. No charges were ever brought against him, and police did not pursue this line of inquiry. And yet in the month after the murders, Julie Mugford had done nothing. She escorted Bamber to the family’s funeral, and comforted him.

“I was scared to believe it,” she testified. “He said that if I said anything that I could be implicated in the crime as well because I knew about it.”

Although some of her testimony was detailed enough to be convincing, it was mostly uncorroborated – virtually hearsay. Julie Mugford was openly besotted with Bamber, and only went to the police after she discovered he had cheated on her and finished their relationship. Bamber said in evidence that he attributed her testimony to jealousy, bitterness, and believing what the tabloids had been writing about him. He said: “There are two people I think who are lying; Julie – she is the main one who is making up stories – and Robert Boutflour (Bamber’s uncle and a witness for the prosecution), who could not have been mistaken.”

Most of the crucial questions at the heart of this case revolve, not around Jeremy Bamber, but around one of the victims, Sheila Caffell. Several people who knew Sheila testified that she did not have the necessary expertise to have fired 23 shots, killing four people, without any “wasted” bullets.

June Bamber’s niece, Ann Eaton, said that as soon as she heard the weapon had been reloaded during the killing spree, she realised Sheila could not possibly have done it.
“She would not know one end of the barrel of a gun to another.” Peter Eaton told the police: “Sheila, I would have said, was definitely frightened of guns. I had never seen Sheila hold a gun or fire one.”

David Boutflour said: “I do not think I can recall seeing her with a gun.”

Even this detail of the case was muddied by the fact he added: “though I have seen a photograph of her holding a gun.”

However, nothing from Sheila Caffell’s actual person supported the possibility that she had perpetrated this violent and bloody massacre either. Her nightdress revealed no traces of cartridge oil or blood from the other victims, and it had no pockets, posing doubts about how she would have reloaded. (A box of cartridges for a .22 was found on the kitchen sideboard and Sheila could, arguably, have carried the box around with her). What’s more, Sheila’s fingernails were described as “long and painted with red varnish” and not at all damaged by having fired and re-loaded a .22 rifle.

As “a mere slip of a girl”, doubts were also expressed that she could not possibly have been involved in the fight with Nevill Bamber, a fight in which stools were upturned, crockery broken, and in which he received lacerations and bruising to his nose, forehead, cheekbones, temples, wrists, forearms and chest, having been battered with the butt of a rifle. And yet Sheila showed no signs of a struggle at all.

The Judge felt compelled to remark that these things pointed to it “being very, very unlikely indeed that she fought and overcame that tough farmer…”
In fact, the palms of Sheila’s hands and the soles of her feet were clean; no blood, no sugar (spilt during the fight with Nevill Bamber), no incriminating substances of any kind. Added to this, Sheila’s psychiatrist, Dr Hugh Ferguson, stated that he “did not see Sheila as a violent person, and certainly not as a patient who would have committed suicide.”

From the tracks of the bullets and the entry wounds, a post-mortem concluded that Sheila was shot at point-blank range “from right under the throat, pointing up.” The tracks of the wounds had gone “upwards and backwards” through the chin and throat and the blood had run “down her face in a vertical direction”, suggesting that she was seated when she was shot. But could she have shot herself twice ?

Although the post-mortem said the first wound would have caused “substantial” haemorrhaging, it also reported that Sheila could have been “stunned” and “not necessarily rapidly lose consciousness”, thus making the second shot – which was fatal “virtually instantaneously” – quite feasible.

The possibility remained that this was exactly what Jeremy Bamber had intended, and that he had murdered Sheila Caffell and made it look like suicide. The problem was how ? How did Bamber get close enough to shoot her, and to shoot her from that angle, with Sheila showing no signs of struggle or resistance ?

Certainly the coroner, influenced by the police at the scene, believed that Sheila Caffell had committed suicide. Exactly a week after the killings, at the inquest, the coroner gave permission for the family to bury her body, and returned it to the authority of Jeremy Bamber. He decided to have it cremated and so, long before he was arrested for her murder, her body could offer no evidence against him.

David Boutflour had said in court that when police suggested Sheila had been the culprit, he told them: “Let’s see the forensics.” He said: “I wanted them to show me her fingerprints on the cartridges.”

He could have made the same demands in Bamber’s case. No blood or dust or incriminating fibres were ever found. Bamber’s clothing was not taken for forensic tests until after he came back from holiday, nor was he examined for bruising or cartridge residue until a month after the event.

As for the question of how Jeremy Bamber had managed to murder Sheila Caffell and fake her suicide, be it by lying on the floor below her, drugging her or threatening her, the prosecution never offered any explanation. It is true that traces of the tranquiliser drug Halo-peridol (used to treat schizophrenia) were found in Sheila’s blood, and Sheila’s psychiatrist, Hugh Ferguson, told the court that if Sheila had been over-sedated “it is quite possible she would have slept quite soundly and deeply.” In fact, her own doctor, Dr Angeloglou, had requested her dosage be reduced for this reason.

A statement by one of Bamber’s relatives suggested that Bamber knew Sheila was on medication and that Bamber told him (correctly) that even if Sheila had taken the drugs a considerable time ago, they would still be detected. But then Sheila had been on medication for years.

Just as Julie Mugford told the court that Jeremy Bamber had threatened to kill his family, so, according to other witnesses, had Sheila Caffell.

When she got divorced from her husband, Colin Caffell, the twins had been put into his custody because of her mental instability. Her cousin testified that Sheila had asked her whether she ever had thoughts of killing herself; and that she had contemplated suicide on more than one occasion. It was said she had “expressed morbid thoughts about killing herself or the boys.”

Sheila’s doctor, Hugh Ferguson from St Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton, told the court that Sheila had “bizarre delusions about possession by the devil.” She had told him she hated her mother and, in the past, she had seen herself as both Joan of Arc and the Virgin Mary. Sheila had been discharged as recently as March 29, 1985 (four months before the murders), and Dr Ferguson wrote he “was not happy about her leaving so soon.”

We get a glimpse of the extent of Sheila’s illness from a recent letter she had written to Ann Eaton.
“The reason I’m here… I asked God into my life so that I can understand mum’s moods more and became completely high on his love, so much so that I wanted to join CND, thinking I had a calling from God to sort the world’s problems out myself. Then I got a thing about the CIA following me. I finally thought a friend saw the devil, so I went through a tough time of unreality… I’m missing the boys. Love Sheila.”

According to Jeremy and June Bamber’s sister, on the night of the murders Nevill and June Bamber had talked to Sheila about putting her children in foster homes. Bamber said Sheila had become upset. Ferguson had confirmed in court: “She had complex ideas about having sex with her twin sons. She thought her sons would seduce her and saw evil in both of them. In particular, she thought Nicholas was a woman-hater and a potential murderer.”

Although her husband Colin Caffell said that “over the years I have known Sheila, she has never used or had any involvement with guns”, he also said that if she had used firearms, he would have been “concerned, bearing in mind her violent outbursts.” He justified this by saying “her outbursts have always been towards property rather than people – pots and pans etc. Apart from the odd occasion when she struck me in temper, she has, to my knowledge, never struck anyone.”

In his report for the defence, Major Mead points out: “The actual facts of the shooting make accuracy an irrelevancy… The distances were so close as to make the question of hitting academic.” He goes on to add: “A degree of familiarity would be needed.”

Jim Stephenson from Justice For All countered Mead’s view though, insisting: “She’d been on farms, and around shoots, all her life – 27 years. She couldn’t have done that without knowing something about shotguns.”

The prosecution argued that the fight with Nevill Bamber pointed to someone other than Sheila, but the opposite could also be true. As Nevill Bamber was badly wounded from the shots he had received in bed (probably to the arm and lower jaw), it is quite possible that it was Sheila, not Jeremy, who had followed him downstairs and battered him with the butt of the rifle before shooting him a further six times.

As for an explanation as to why Sheila’s hands or feet bore no forensic evidence, Home Office pathologist and Professor of Forensic Pathology at the University of Wales, Professor Bernard Knight, testified that it was quite normal and common for suicide victims to wash themselves. A religious fanatic such as Sheila could well have done this. Suicide victims, said Professor Knight, performed all sorts of “mundane” and “ritualistic tasks.” Sheila could have put the silencer away in the gun cupboard before shooting herself. Knight also testified that “women almost never commit suicide by shooting”, especially in this manner (to the neck; the mouth being more common). At the same time he also expressed the opinion that “for a third party to do this seems rather extraordinary… I think it would be difficult for someone else to do this without her objecting.” As the post-mortem said: “One cannot say with any degree of certainty whether the injuries were produced by another party.”

And that uncertainty remains. If it were possible that Bamber’s conviction had left a killer at large, the Home Secretary Michael Howard would be compelled to look more carefully at Bamber’s grounds for appeal.

But the new evidence collected by Bamber’s campaigners does not resolve the crucial question: who killed “Bambi” ?

If the blood in the silencer could indeed be Nevill or June Bamber’s, as expert witnesses now claim, it still remains feasible that either Jeremy Bamber or Sheila Caffell could have killed their family. So although this evidence throws doubts over the prosecution’s case, it does not conclusively establish Bamber’s innocence.

Of course, this is not actually their responsibility. In the eyes of the law, if there is reasonable doubt, not only should Jeremy Bamber be granted the appeal he so vigorously claims his case merits, he should never have been convicted in the first place.