'Essex Boys' murders: Mum will 'fight till dying day'

Jack and Pam Whomes
Image caption Jack Whomes and his mother Pam, who is fighting for his release from prison

The mother of a gangland murderer has said she will fight until her dying day for his release, 20 years after he killed three men.

Drug dealers Craig Rolfe, Tony Tucker and Pat Tate were shot dead in a Range Rover in Rettendon on 6 December 1995.

Jack Whomes and Michael Steele were jailed for life for their murders. Pam Whomes said she hopes she is "still alive to see him walk out of prison".

A retired detective said he had "no doubts whatsoever" about the case.

It became known as the "Essex Boys" murders, particularly after a 2000 film of the same name, starring Sean Bean.

The three murdered men, all career criminals, were ambushed over an unsellable consignment of cannabis.

Whomes and Steele were jailed following a trial at the Old Bailey in 1998 and have always protested their innocence.

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Media captionRettendon murders 20 years on
Image caption Pam Whomes says she will fight until her "dying day" to get her son Jack released

Doubts have often been raised about their conviction, which was based on the word of a police informant. Mobile phone records were used to corroborate his testimony but have since been called into question.

However, two appeals have already been turned down in the courts, and Whomes's third bid was recently rejected before reaching that stage.

Mrs Whomes, 77, who lives in Stowmarket, Suffolk, said her legal team was now trying to overturn that decision. She insists they have fresh evidence but did not want to reveal its nature to the BBC.

"He wouldn't put us through this if he had done it, he would have been out 10 years ago if he admitted it, but he won't confess to something he didn't do.

"That's my one aim in life, I just hope that I'm still alive to see him walk out of there, but I know even if I'm not he'll fight on and prove it in the end," she said.

Image copyright Granada Films
Image caption Essex Boys, starring Sean Bean, was released by Granada Films in 2000

The Essex Boys on film

  • Essex Boys (2000)
  • Rise of the Foot Soldier (2007) and Rise of the Foot Soldier II (2015)
  • Bonded by Blood (2010) and Bonded by Blood 2 (2015)
  • The Fall of the Essex Boys (2013)
  • Essex Boys: Retribution (2013)
  • Essex Boys: Law of Survival (2015)
  • The Hit (2015)

However, former Det Supt David Bright, who lives in Southend, had a key role in the original investigation and says he has "no doubts whatsoever" about the conviction.

"It was a long and very thorough trial and the decision was unanimous by the jury, they were very satisfied with the evidence.

"I know the defendants have exhausted almost every avenue for appeal and they always come back with the same findings.

"It wasn't a mistake, it was a horrendous crime that deserves to be punished," he said.

Michael Steele is also currently going through the courts in a separate attempt to overturn his conviction.

Father-of-two Whomes teaches in HMP Whitemoor in Cambridgeshire, where he is detained, and has gained 27 City and Guilds qualifications.

"I think we've got a hell of a struggle the way the legal system is, but I really believe that he will eventually walk out," Mrs Whomes added.

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