Jeremy Nevill Bamber (born Jeremy Paul Marsham; January 13th, 1961) is an Englishman who was convicted of the White House Farm murders.
Bamber was born Jeremy Paul Marsham at St Mary Abbot's Hospital, Kensington, London, to Juliet Dorothy Wheeler (born 1938 in Leicester), a vicar's daughter who had had an affair with army Sergeant Major Leslie Brian Marsham (born 1931 in Tendring, Essex), a controller at Buckingham Palace. She gave the baby up for adoption in 1961, the year of his birth, through the Church of England Children's Society. Nevill and June Bamber adopted him when he was six months old. It was only after Bamber's conviction that his biological parents were told by reporters that Bamber was their son. They were by then married to each other and working at Buckingham Palace.
The Bambers were wealthy farmers who lived in a large Georgian house at White House Farm, near Tolleshunt D'Arcy in Essex. Nevill was a local magistrate and former RAF pilot. In 1957, four years before adopting Jeremy, the couple had adopted a baby girl, Sheila.
Bamber attended St Nicholas Primary, followed by Maldon Court, a private prep school, then from September 1970 Gresham's School, a boarding school in Norfolk. Claire Powell writes that Nevill felt it would be inappropriate to send the boy to a local school for the village children, when he might one day have to employ them on the farm. This led, writes Powell, to a situation in which Bamber felt increasingly alienated from his family and their life in the countryside, as did his sister, who was also sent to boarding school. He left school with no qualifications, much to Nevill's anger, but managed to pass seven O-levels at sixth-form college in Colchester, which he left in 1978.
A close friend of his, Brett Collins from New Zealand, said Bamber was sexually assaulted when he was 11, around the time he started at Gresham's. According to Collins, Bamber went on to have sexual relationships with men and women, finding that his good looks and charm made him popular with both. Collins, who was nearly arrested with Bamber and now lives on Waiheke Island near Auckland, now thinks that Bamber is guilty.
After school Bamber's adoptive father financed a trip for him to Australia and New Zealand and a scuba diving course. While in New Zealand, Bamber met Brett Collins, who said Bamber was "ripped off" by a would-be heroin dealer in Auckland. Bamber also broke into a jewellery shop and stole two expensive watches, one of which he gave to a girlfriend back in Britain. He also boasted, according to Claire Powell, that he had been involved in smuggling heroin overseas. One of his cousins said Bamber ended up leaving New Zealand in a hurry, because friends of his had been involved in an armed robbery.
He returned to the UK and worked in restaurants and bars, which included working as a waiter in a Little Chef on the A12; but he later agreed to return home and work on his father's farm. Although he reportedly resented the low wages, he was given a car and lived rent-free in a cottage his father owned at 9 Head Street, Goldhanger, 3.5 miles (5.6 km) from his family's farmhouse at White House Farm. He also owned eight percent of his family's caravan site, Osea Road Camp Sites Ltd., in Maldon, Essex.
A few weeks before the murders, Bamber trashed and robbed the family business at Osea Road Caravan Park. This was only revealed after the murders, when he was forced to admit to the robbery, after girlfriend Julie Mugford came forward as a witness against him.
Bamber alerted police to the shootings at around 3:30 am on 7 August 1985. He told them that Nevill telephoned him to say that Bamber's sister, Sheila Caffell, had gone "berserk" with Nevill's rifle. When police entered the farmhouse Caffell was found dead on the floor of her parents' bedroom, with the rifle up against her throat. June Bamber was found in the same room. Caffell's six-year-old twin sons, Nicholas and Daniel, were found in their beds in another upstairs room, while Nevill was found in the kitchen downstairs. The family had been shot 25 times, mostly at close range.
Sheila Caffell had spent time in a psychiatric hospital being treated for schizophrenia months before the murders. The police believed that she was responsible until Bamber's girlfriend told them he had implicated himself. The prosecution case included that there was no evidence that Bamber's father had telephoned him. They argued that the father was too badly injured to have spoken to anyone; that there was no blood on the kitchen phone; and that he would have called the police, not Bamber.
They also argued that the silencer was on the gun when the shots were fired, and that Caffell's reach was not long enough to hold the gun and silencer at her throat and press the trigger. In addition she was not strong enough, they said, to have overcome her father in what appeared to have been a violent struggle in the kitchen. They also argued that the fact Sheila had shot herself twice in her apparent suicide attempt was evidence that she was not the killer.
Bamber's defence team have unsuccessfully challenged the evidence over the years. They alleged that a police log suggested that Bamber's father had indeed called the police that night, and that the silencer may not have been on the gun during the attacks. The silencer evidence was unreliable, they argued, because the silencer was found in a farmhouse cupboard by one of Bamber's cousins three days after the murders.
Bamber is a category A prisoner in HM Prison Wakefield, Yorkshire, where he is serving a whole-life tariff, meaning he will never be released. He has worked there as a peer partner, which involves helping other prisoners to read and write, and has won several awards for transcribing books in the prison's Braille workshop.
In 2001 The Times alleged that he had been treated with indulgence at Long Lartin Prison, Worcestershire, where prisoners were given the key to their cells. Among the allegations were claims that he studied for his GCSE in sociology and media studies, had a daily badminton lesson, and drew pictures of supermodels in an art class, which he later sold through an outside agent.
A group of outside supporters has formed around Bamber, and he has reportedly developed several close relationships with women since his conviction. He defended himself on one occasion from a knife attack by another prisoner by using a broken bottle, and on another received 28 stitches on his neck when attacked while making a telephone call. In 1994 he called a radio station from Long Lartin prison to protest his innocence.