Murder in the Family
In 1986, 24-year-old Jeremy Bamber was jailed for life for killing five members of his adoptive family at their farmhouse in Essex.
He was sentenced to a minimum of 25 years for the murders of his step-parents, sister and her two six-year-old sons, Nicholas and Daniel. Sentencing Bamber to five life prison terms, the judge Mr Justice Drake said he was "warped and evil beyond belief".
The controversial crime was hampered by police setbacks and Bamber remained a free man on bail living off his dead parents’ finances while investigations continued. Today he still protests his innocence and, as recently as 2001, his case was taken back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
The White House Farm murders read like something out of a crime novel. It had all the classic ingredients of a whodunit tethered with a vicious ferocity and cruelty that contrasts with its idyllic setting.
The crime involved brutal murders in the English countryside on a summer's evening with a cast of characters straight out of a True Crime story. The victims were two overbearing religious parents, a mentally unstable daughter, a scheming, envious son and a jilted girlfriend.
Bamber did not have a particularly audacious start in life. He was the illegitimate son of a vicar's daughter and a married army sergeant. At six-weeks-old he was adopted by wealthy Neville Bamber, a former RAF pilot, and his wife June, who farmed near the Essex village of Tolleshunt D'Arcy. A few years later the Bambers adopted another child, Sheila Caffell, who they nicknamed Bambi.
Materially both the children wanted for nothing and were given a private education. But they also had to endure strict discipline imposed by their devoutly Christian parents.
Bamber had no interest in his father’s business, hated the farm and the farming world, and instead drifted through a series of jobs. He was however extremely flamboyant and used his affluent background as a means to impress women with a pseudo ‘playboy’ image he honed to perfection. As an adult, Sheila was attractive enough to start a promising career as a model and her parents paid for a flat in London where she hoped to become a success.
Sheila married and had twin boys, but when the marriage broke down she became depressed and began to suffer from illness developing into schizophrenia. One psychiatric report mentions that at times she believed her children were from the devil. Because of her problems Sheila and the twins moved back to the farmhouse with her parents.
By this time, Bamber lived with his student-teacher girlfriend Julie Mugford. They shared a rent-free cottage provided by his parents at Goldhanger, a few miles from the main farmhouse.
Neville offered Bamber a job on the farm paying him £170 a week. It certainly was not the glamorous position that the young man was desperate for and even his request to run the caravan site owned by the family were dismissed as Neville believed his son had no business sense.
Bamber hated the farm but his father’s will cut him off unless he stayed a farmer. He wanted the life of a ‘playboy’ and was determined to live it, at any cost. He also despised his stepmother June for preaching religion at him and he had never forgiven both parents for sending him away to public school.