Jeremy Bamber, the convicted killer at the heart of ITV’s critically-acclaimed show claims he now has ‘the ultimate alibi’ to prove he didn’t massacre his family
The dramatisation of the fatal shootings of five members of the Bamber family at White House Farm in Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex, on August 6 1985 has gripped viewers. Former model Sheila ‘Bambi’ Caffell, 28, hauntingly portrayed Prince Harry’s ex Cressida Bonas, was initially believed to have shot dead her parents, Nevill and June Bamber, and her six-year-old twins, Nicholas and Daniel, before turning the gun on herself. However, a police investigation later implicated her adopted brother, Jeremy Bamber, then 24, and he is currently serving a whole-life sentence with no chance of parole after being convicted at Chelmsford Crown Court in 1986.
Cressida Bonas as Sheila Caffell (courtesy of ITV)
The opening episode of the ITV drama, which also stars Line of Duty’s Stephen Graham and Game Of Thrones’ Gemma Whelan, re-enacted the real-life moment Bamber (played by Freddie Fox) waited outside the farmhouse with police officers after summoning help at 3.30am. Those officers decided it wasn’t safe to enter the farmhouse without armed backup after thinking they’d spotted movement at an upstairs window. When the backup finally arrived at 7am, armed officers thought they heard a noise upstairs, but on examination everyone in the house was already dead.
Bamber, now 59, claims those discrepancies and the delay in entering the house prove he wasn’t responsible for the massacre, during which 25 shots were fired at close range from a rifle fitted with a silencer. ‘It is the ultimate alibi that I was in the company of dozens of police officers when it was clear that a person or persons were alive in the house who I am convicted of murdering,’ he told a Mirror reporter from his cell at Wakefield prison. He believes the noise the officers heard could’ve been Sheila shooting herself.
He now plans to use this ‘evidence’ in a new appeal, after his legal team last year applied to the Criminal Cases Review Commission asking it to disclose previously unseen evidence. Previous appeals have been rejected.
Jeremy Bamber is pictured being led into Chelmsford Crown Court at the start of his trial in 1986 (Getty Images)
Author Carol Ann Lee, whose non-fictional account The Murders At White House Farm was relied upon for research by the programme’s makers, is unequivocal in her belief Bamber is guilty. In the book she quotes one of the first police officers on the scene, Sergeant Chris Bews, as admitting they were mistaken when they thought they saw movement in an upstairs window.
‘As we moved away [from the farmhouse], I thought we saw something else move, a shadow, something like that,’ he said. ‘We looked up and after looking for a couple of minutes, I was satisfied that it was perhaps a part in the glass that just shone the light slightly as you looked at it.’
Someone else who has absolutely no doubt about Bamber’s guilt is his former brother-in-law, Colin Caffell (portrayed onscreen by Mark Stanley). As the drama depicts, he and Bamber were united by their shared grief in the days after the murders. ‘Initially I was very much set up to be on Jeremy’s side,’ said Colin.
At first he was too shocked to process the horror of what happened, but when the details eventually filtered through he knew immediately Sheila, who had mental health issues, wasn’t responsible. ‘Once people explained the circumstances to me, I said, “Sheila couldn’t have done that”. She had never picked up a rifle in her life and certainly never knew how to fire one or re-load one.’ He added, ‘[This drama] exonerates her.’
White House Farm continues on ITV on Wednesdays at 9pm