On December 6, 1995 three British drug dealers were found shot dead in a Range Rover which had been parked down a quiet country lane. Jack Whomes has spent 22 years in prison for the murders – but his mother has told Sputnik she’s confident his name will one day be cleared.
Essex Police claimed Jack Whomes, a mechanic from Suffolk, was the gunman who managed to shoot dead Tony Tucker, Pat Tate and Craig Rolfe without any of them having the time to react.
Whomes and another man, Mick Steele, were jailed for life in 1998 based solely on the claims of an informant, or supergrass, Darren Nicholls. Both have maintained their innocence all along.
Pam Whomes, who will be 80 in February, said she remained “optimistic” her son would one day have his name cleared.
“All he wants is to have his name cleared. He doesn’t want money. They can stick that. He just wants his name cleared for his sake and for his family’s sake,” she told Sputnik.
She recalled a visit her husband, also called Jack, made to see her son in prison before his death from cancer six years ago.
Dying Man’s Plea to His Son
“My husband said ‘Can you just say you done it so you can come out and look after your mother when I’ve gone’ and Jack said ‘No, I’m sorry. I can’t do that, not even for you’,” Mrs. Whomes told Sputnik.
She said the conviction was the most glaring miscarriage of justice in recent British criminal history.
“It was a professional hit. The way they were shot it would probably have taken three people to do it. You’d have to have been James Bond to kill all three on your own. My son was never vicious. He was a gentle giant and I’d know if he had done it. I would have stuck by him if he had done it but I know he hasn’t done it,” she told Sputnik.
Key Witness Given a New Identity
Nicholls, who gave evidence against Steele and Whomes after he himself was caught red-handed with a car loaded with drugs, was put in a witness protection scheme, given a new life with a secret identity.
At his trial Nicholls claimed Steele and Whomes wanted the trio dead after they fell out over a shipment of cannabis.
Tucker, Tate and Rolfe were notorious drug dealers in Essex and east London and had been involved in the supply of Ecstasy tablets to a teenager Leah Betts, whose death was front page news in British newspapers in November 1995.
There were a number of anomalies in Nicholls’ version of events. When the Range Rover was discovered in the morning it was not iced over even though it had, according to his account, been parked in the lane in freezing temperatures since the previous night.
Mrs. Whomes said she never expected him to tell the truth about what really happened but she hinted that moves were afoot to overturn the conviction.
The case has spawned a total of eight films, the first of which, Essex Boys, starred Sean Bean, and the most recent, The Rise of the Footsoldier 3: The Pat Tate Story, came out last month.
“Every film is different and they have all got different actors and none of them tells the true story. The true story is mind-blowing, what the police have done. We are still finding out evidence. We know what they were up to but we have to prove it. We’ve got proof now but I can’t say more than that. The police know we’re onto them,” Mrs. Whomes told Sputnik.
A ninth film, The Hit, is currently in production.
She said her son had recently been moved to Wayland prison in Norfolk and was hoping to get his tariff — the minimum amount of time he must serve — reduced from 25 years.
“But even when he is out he will still want to clear his name,” she told Sputnik.
He has been a model prisoner, has been awarded 27 diplomas and is currently working in the engineering workshop in Wayland prison.
“He works with all the motors and is doing some work for Ford heritage in there. It was the first time he’d had grease on his hands for years and he was over the moon,” said Mrs. Whomes told Sputnik.
Jack Whomes is now 56 and has four grandchildren, all of whom were born during his incarceration.
Both Whomes and Steele have had several appeals rejected and Essex Police insists the right men were convicted.
“Since the trial and conviction of the two men for the triple murders, there has been an exhaustive examination of the evidence both by the Criminal Cases Review Commission and indeed the Court of Appeal. No new evidence has been presented to shed any reasonable doubt on the safety of those convictions,” Essex Police told Sputnik on Wednesday, December 6.
The family of the three victims have largely kept their silence over the years although Tucker’s daughter Samantha, who was only a child when he was killed, told a Sputnik reporter several years ago she assumed the right men had been convicted.