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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 18:16 GMT
Lifer denied access to computer
Jack Whomes and daughter Lucy
Jack Whomes could not write his address before prison
A man who continues to protest his innocence three years after being jailed for life for a triple murder has been refused access to a computer in a top security jail.

Jack Whomes, 39, was convicted of the murder of Essex drug dealers Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe, who were found shot dead in a Range Rover parked in a country lane in Rettendon, near Chelmsford, in December 1995.

Pat Tate
Pat Tate, one of three drug dealers killed at Rettendon
Whomes, and his co-accused Mick Steele, 58, were jailed for life and Whomes was set a tariff of 25 years by the home secretary.

On Thursday Whomes lost his application for a computer - and associated software - but was praised by a judge for having educated himself while inside.

Whomes appeared before a High Court judge on a special high-tech video link from Whitemoor jail in Cambridgeshire, where he is being held as a Category A prisoner.

The car mechanic told the judge how he could not even write his address when he was jailed in January 1998.

Illiterate

He has learned how to read and write, by studying the transcripts of his own trial.

Whomes said he had done "exceptionally well" in woodwork and technical drawing and wanted to use a lap-top computer with AutoCad 2000 software to further his education.


I have some sympathy for you. It is obviously desirable in the interests of everyone that you should be able to educate yourself.

Mr Justice Collins
He asked Mr Justice Collins for permission to seek judicial review of the Directorate of High Security Prisons' decision to reject his request for a computer.

The decision was made in November for "security reasons".

The judge refused Whomes' application, saying the decision was neither unfair nor irrational.

But he commended Whomes and said: "You have obviously done exceptionally well.

Hopes to win freedom

"I have some sympathy for you. It is obviously desirable in the interests of everyone that you should be able to educate yourself.

"I sincerely hope (the prison authorities) will do all they can to assist. I am certainly giving them every encouragement to do it."

Whomes, who was convicted largely on the evidence of supergrass Darren Nicholls, denies taking part in the killings.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission is considering whether to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal.

Whomes' solicitor, Richard Hill, told BBC News Online he hoped the CCRC would appoint a case worker before Christmas and he said he was confident the case would be referred back to the Court of Appeal in the first half of 2002.

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