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ESSEX BOYS MURDERS: Convicted triple killer Jack Whomes to be freed after 23 years in jail

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: CONVICTED Rettendon Killer Jack Whomes is to be released from prison after serving nearly 22 years in jail and despite maintaining he is innocent of the notorious murders.

Whomes, 59, (pictured above) was one of two men convicted over the Essex Boys triple gangland murders in December 1995 that have become the subject of a string of movies.

He was jailed in December 1998 with Michael Steele, 76, for the murders of drug dealers Pat Tate, 37, Tony Tucker, 38, and Craig Rolfe, 26, whose bullet riddled bodies were found in a Range Rover parked on a farm track at Rettendon, near Basildon, Essex.

The pair have always protested their innocence.

Whomes, was described as a model prisoner after gaining a number of qualifications in jail.

After a Parole Board hearing this month, the panel said he was suitable for release subject to strict conditions.

He had been working as a mechanic in Ipswich on day release from open prison before the coronavirus pandemic.

A summary of the Parole Board decision, released today, said: "As required by law, Mr Whomes' case was referred to the Parole Board by the Secretary of State for Justice to determine whether he could be safely released on parole licence.

INNOCENT? Whomes and Steele have insisted for years they did not kill the three gangsters {Essex Police)

"If not, the panel should consider whether remaining in open conditions could be recommended."

The case was considered at an oral hearing on January 12, which took place via video link due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The summary added: "The panel could only direct release if it was satisfied that it was no longer

necessary for the protection of the public that Mr Whomes remained confined in prison.

"In reaching its decision, the panel considered the contents of Mr Whomes’ dossier, prepared by the Secretary of State.

"At the hearing, the panel took oral evidence from Mr Whomes’ probation officer based in the community and the official supervising his case in prison.

"Mr Whomes also gave evidence to the panel and was legally represented at the hearing.

"The panel had the benefit of victim personal statements which conveyed clearly the impact of Mr Whomes’ crimes and the long-term consequences of his offending.

"The contents were considered carefully by the panel."

On January 20 1998, Whomes received three mandatory life sentences following the convictions for the murders.

He was 35 years old at the time of the offences.

Whomes first became eligible to be considered for release on May 13 2020.

DEAD: Left to right Tate, Rolfe and Tucker (Essex Police)

The summary added: "His case was first considered by the Parole Board in 2019 and the panel on that occasion recommended his transfer to an open prison.

"The Secretary of State accepted that recommendation and Mr Whomes moved to an open prison

in the same year.

"Having considered the index offences, relevant patterns of previous offending and the other evidence before it, the panel listed risk factors (influences that made it more likely that Mr Whomes would offend).

"At the time of his offending, these risk factors had included his willingness to resort to violence and to use weapons, his antisocial friends, acting on the spur of the moment without thinking adequately about the consequences, not being able to solve life’s problems well enough, his unhelpful beliefs, not understanding the harm that his actions caused to others, difficulties in keeping or getting a job and not having enough money."

The panel also considered the fact Whomes continues to deny the murders.

It added: "The panel heard that Mr Whomes maintains that he did not commit the Index offences and as a result little or no work had been completed to address offending behaviour.

"Mr Whomes had completed work to explore victim empathy and had developed his education and employment skills.

"Since being in an open prison, there had been no concerns reported about his behaviour, which the

panel was told had been exemplary.

"Mr Whomes had been tested many times in the community via periods of temporary release and witnesses recommended that he should now be released on life licence."

He will be under strict conditions following release including living at a designated address and reporting to a supervisor, while having restrictions on electronic devices, vehicles and associates.

SCENE: The Range Rover in which the grim discovery was made 26 years ago (Essex Police)

The panel added: "The panel considered and agreed to proposed conditions that had been requested within the victim statements.

"The panel concluded that the risk management plan was robust enough to manage Mr Whomes in the community.

"After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and the evidence presented at the hearing, the panel was satisfied that Mr Whomes was suitable for release."

Essex News and Investigations broke the news to Whome's brother John, who has campaigned for years for the conviction to be overturned.

He said: "I will speak to the lawyers straight away, but this is brilliant news if what you say is right."

Whomes and Steele were jailed on the evidence of supergrass Darren Nicholls who told the Old Bailey he acted as getaway driver for the pair, who he said lured the victims to the scene on the pretence of discussing drugs.

They have always insisted their innocence and no forensic evidence linked them to the murder, but mobile phone site cell evidence was also relied upon.

Earlier this month we told how a team of former murder detectives claimed the wrong men may have been jailed over the murders.

The former Met Police investigators, including one who arrested Nicholls on suspicion of drug importation before he agreed to act for the prosecution, claims to have found evidence that supports the statements of another alleged getaway driver who named different killers four months before Nicholls gave his account.

It comes after former Essex criminal Steve 'Nipper' Ellis, who shot Tate before the murders and was arrested during the investigation, claimed in a YouTube video his late father Sid was the real killer.

REJECTED: Steele failed in a bid to be moved to open prison (Essex Police)

Former Met Police DCI Dave McKelvey arrested Mr Nicholl's in connection with a drugs importation in May 1996, five months after the murders, before he was handed over to Essex Police and agreed to give evidence against Whomes and Steele who were arrested the same day.

Mr McKelvey, who now runs the private investigation firm TM-Eye, had always believed the right men were convicted.

But TM-Eye's top investigators have spent the past year investigating the Rettendon murders, and are now convinced they are innocent.

After learning of the release through this website, Mr McKelvey said, "This is excellent news. Our team of highly experienced former senior investigating officers and homicide detectives believe that both men are innocent.

"The Essex Police investigation was at best 'blinkered' and we have uncovered vital new evidence.

"We hope that Essex Police will take up our offer to fully brief them. sadly at present we are being deflected towards the CCRC who will likely take years to resolve.

"Michael Steele at 76 years of age may not have that time to prove his innocence".

In December 2019 Steele failed in a bid to be moved to an open prison, but claimed at his parole hearing "police corruption" was responsible for his "wrongful conviction."

The pair made their fourth application to the Criminal Case Review Commission (CCRC), to refer the convictions back to the Court of Appeal on grounds of "new evidence," in May 2018.

A CCRC spokesman said: "Mr Steele and Mr Whomes have applied to the CCRC a number of times. On the first applications we referred their convictions to the Court of Appeal in 2002, but their convictions were upheld in 2004.

"Their current fourth application arrived in May of 2018 and their case is still under review."


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