On 6 December 1995, three drug dealers were shot dead in a Range Rover on a farm track in the village of Rettendon in Essex, England (also known as the Range Rover Rettendon murders or Essex murders). An extensive police investigation and several special operations, including Operation Century, were conducted to discover the perpetrators and gather as much information as possible regarding the murders. Feature films and books have also been devoted to the murders.
A small farm track in Rettendon was the scene of the shootings of Tony Tucker Essex boy, Patrick Tate and Craig Rolfe which occurred on 6 December 1995.
The Operation Century investigation ended without any arrests or evidence leading to criminal prosecutions. The prosecution relating to the murders was based upon police investigations that followed Operation Century’s closure.
Following an Old Bailey trial in January 1998, two men were convicted of the murders: Jack Arthur Whomes, from Brockford, Suffolk, and Michael John Steele, from Great Bentley, Colchester. Darren Nicholls, a police informant from Braintree, Essex, who gave testimony at the trial against his former friends, raised questions about the reliability of his testimony based on mobile phone records. They have unsuccessfully challenged their convictions over the past two decades.
Following a hearing before the Parole Board on 25 January 2021, Jack Whomes was released from prison on licence after serving 23 years. We reduced his 25-year sentence by two years in 2018 for his exemplary behaviour.
Leah Betts’ death after taking ecstasy was linked to the Rettendon murders during the investigation.
What BBC UK Says About the Essex Murders
After receiving a letter from the Home Secretary a few days earlier, Jack Whomes broke some bad news to his family shortly before Christmas. activities In December 1995, Whomes was informed that the Home Secretary had increased his prison sentence from 18 to 25 years for murdering three drug dealers in Essex.
He was forced to swallow a bitter pill, but his family is undaunted – his parents, Jack, his four brothers, and one sister. A terrible miscarriage of justice has occurred with her son – and his co-defendant Michael Steele – and Pam Whomes is determined not to let her son be freed from prison or cleared of his name.
“They presented him with a document for him to sign saying he’d committed these crimes, but he refused, so now they’re making him serve 25 years,” said Mrs Whomes.
Aside from Road Rage Killer Kenneth Noye, Whomes is incarcerated at Cambridgeshire’s Whitemoor top security jail.
The three-hour round trip from his home in Suffolk is made every week by his wife, Gail, and their kids, Jay-Jay, 14, and Lucy, 15. Although the family tried to shield their children from the truth in the beginning, they are now becoming increasingly involved in the fight to free him.
It has been a devastating experience for his wife and children, Mrs Whomes said, but added that nothing can replace the time he lost watching his children grow up, and nothing can compensate for that, nor can it compensate for his wife or children.”
Rettendon Murders Horror
Three career criminals were found dead in a Range Rover parked on a remote farm track near Chelmsford, Essex, on the morning of 7 December 1995. Tony Tucker, Pat Tate, and Craig Rolfe were all taken aback by the shooting.
It became headline news when teenager Leah Betts died from drugs supplied by the men as a result of the supply of cannabis and ecstasy by the trio. Police claim they were murdered because Steele disapproved of a shipment of cannabis from Holland that could not be sold.
According to the prosecution, Steele, Whomes’ co-defendant, lured the trip to Rettendon’s Workhouse Lane, shot them out of the bushes with a shotgun, and then escaped.
As a result of being found with a large amount of cannabis in his possession, Darren Nicholls faced a substantial prison sentence.
After escaping prison, Nicholls was rehoused in a different part of the country and given a brand-new identity.
Campaign for family plans
Nicholls’ word is all that is needed to convict her son, according to Mrs. Whomes. A forensic scientist who examined Whomes’ phone has since undermined the police’s reliance on evidence regarding mobile phone calls made by and to the defendants.
In an interview with BBC News Online, Mrs Whomes said: “If my son had done something like that, I would tell him, ‘You did what you were supposed to do.’ But he is innocent. There is no evidence.”
In the past year, Johnny Whomes has unearthed new evidence and kept the case in the spotlight; he was arrested last year after carrying a banner across the M25 and protesting at the Home Office before the holidays.
According to him, in the Range Rover where it was claimed Steele had been sitting, police did not test a sweet wrapper and an empty packet of crisps for DNA.
As well as Steele’s partner, Jackie, the Whomes family is convinced that their loved ones will walk free someday. When all the new evidence has been collected, Whomes will submit an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) to review Steele’s case. Nevertheless, the case could reach the Supreme Court in three to four years, according to his solicitor, Trevor Linn.