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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 05:27 GMT 06:27 UK
Fresh hope in Range Rover murders
By Chris Summers
BBC News

Rettendon Range Rover
Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe were killed in the Range Rover
The Criminal Cases Review Commission has agreed to look again at the conviction of a man jailed for a triple murder in Essex 12 years ago.

News of the move comes as a film featuring the murders hits the cinemas.

Jack Whomes, 46, from Suffolk, has served nine years of a life sentence for the murder of three drug dealers in December 1995.

The murders are featured in The Rise of The Foot Soldier, a gangster movie which opens on Friday.

Whomes, and his co-defendant Mick Steele, have consistently denied being involved in the murders of Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe, who were found shot dead in a Range Rover parked down a country lane in Rettendon, Essex.

No forensic evidence

There was no forensic evidence against the pair and no eyewitnesses saw them in the area.

The main prosecution witness was drug dealer Darren Nicholls, but the trial jury was never told that Nicholls had negotiated a lucrative book and TV deal while being held in "protective custody".

A still from The Rise of the Foot Soldier
In the film Craig Fairbrass (left) plays Pat Tate

In February 2006 the Court of Appeal rejected an appeal by the pair.

But the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has now allotted a new case worker to look into Whomes' claims that he was wrongfully convicted in January 1998.

His mother, Pam Whomes, told the BBC News website: "Jack has always maintained his innocence and he is delighted that the CCRC have taken it upon themselves to look at his case again."

She said her son did not feel he got a fair hearing at the Court of Appeal and she said more evidence was coming to light all the time.

The Court of Appeal essentially said that Nicholls told his story at an early stage and the media deal wouldn't have made any difference to a jury. We say the problem was that the Court of Appeal did not have all the relevant information
Henry Blaxland QC

Whomes' barrister, Henry Blaxland QC, said: "Without Darren Nicholls there was no case against these men.

"The Court of Appeal essentially said that Nicholls told his story at an early stage and the media deal wouldn't have made any difference to a jury. We say the problem was that the Court of Appeal did not have all the relevant information."

He said they were also awaiting the outcome of a petition to the European Court of Human Rights.

'We will prove his innocence'

Mrs Whomes said: "We have now been without Jack for 11 years but the powers-that-be need to know that we are never going to let this rest.

"We will go on to prove his innocence and we hope we will soon get the case referred back to the Court of Appeal."

The Rise of the Foot Soldier is based on the life of Carlton Leach, a former football hooligan from Essex who became a bouncer and a close friend of Tucker during the early 1990s.

Jack Whomes with his daughter
Jack Whomes, pictured with his daughter before his 1996 arrest

The story concludes with Tucker and his fellow drug dealers being killed at Rettendon.

The film's director, Julian Gilbey, said the movie offered three theories to the audience as to how the killings happened, only one of which was the police's official version of events.

He told the BBC News website: "There are so many gaps about what happened that night that all we can do is hypothesise and at the end of the film we put up the bare facts in black and white - that Jack Whomes and Mick Steele were convicted on the evidence of Nicholls, who was a convicted thief and a self-confessed liar."

"Nobody know if Jack and Mick did it but if they have not done it I pray to God that they get out."




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