Jack Whomes & Micheal Steele

AKAEssex Boys.
Rettendon Murders.
Rang Rover Murders
OccupationMick Steele-Engineer. Jack Whomes-Mechanic.
Kill Total3
Kill PlaceEssex
Kill DateDec 1995
VictimTony Tucker-38, Patrick Tate-37, Craig Rolfe -26
CourtThe Old Bailey
JudgeMr Justice Hidden
ProsecutionAndrew Munday QC
DefenceBaroness Kennedy QC
Case No:

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Serial Killers
Jack Whomes, Mick Steele, Tony Tucker, Patrick Tate, & Craig Rolfe had met in prison, they formed a very successful drug smuggling operation.
The low quality of cannabis received in one particular drug-run, led to an argument between Steele and Tucker. Steele then arranged with the seller to return the low quality drugs in return for repayment. He then travelled to Amsterdam to get his money but did not receive a third of the drugs from Tate as he was expecting.
Steele then arranged to meet Tucker, along with Rolfe and Tate, to discuss a plan to smuggle cocaine into the country.

6th December 1995, in what became knows as 'The Range Rover Murders', or 'The Rettendon Murders'. Jack Whomes and Michael Steele met their victims at Workhouse Lane, Rettendon, and as they sat in their car shot each member in the head at point blank range with a shotgun.

7th December 1995, drug dealers Tony Tucker aged-38, Patrick Tate aged-37, and Craig Rolfe aged-26, were found shot dead in a Range Rover on a farm track in Rettendon, near Basildon. They were discovered by 

January 1996, A month after the murders an East End gangster, Billy Jasper, was arrested for an armed robbery, while under questioning, he confessed to having been the getaway driver to the Rettendon killings.

He claimed another criminal, Jesse Gale, gave him £5,000 to drive an accomplice, referred to for legal reasons as Mr D, to and from Workhouse Lane in Rettendon, Essex, where he was going to carry out a cocaine deal with the three men.  Jasper later testified at the Old Bailey that he had agreed to the plan, but had not spotted Mr D's 9-mm Browning pistol and a sawn-off shotgun when he first drove him to Workhouse Lane.
He said it was only on collecting him that he saw the weapon and realised Tate, Tucker and Rolfe had been killed.
But Jasper did not fit in with Essex Police's line of enquiry. 54-year-old Michael Steele was already their prime suspect - and Jasper was never charged, or questioned in connection with the triple murder.

A police investigation named 'Operation Century', produced no arrests or evidence leading to a prosecution, the operation was wound up.
The prosecution that was eventually brought in connection with the murders, and was based on police operations after the closure of the failed Operation Century.

May 1996, Darren Nicholls was arrested in possession of drugs. He turned into a so-called "supergrass" and tells police the men responsible for the 'Rettendon Murders' were Mick Steele and Jack Whomes.

November 1997,Trial at The Old Bailey in London, The key witness was police informer Darren Nicholls from Braintree, Essex, Nichols gave evidence against his former friends at their trial. Nichols claimed he was the getaway driver at the time.
Questions were raised over the reliability of mobile phone records used to corroborate Nichols testimony. The informant, who had been charged with conspiracy to import cannabis, was later given credit for turning Queen's Evidence and was sentenced to 15 months in jail. He walked free in lieu of time he had served on remand.

Thursday 15th January 1998, jury retires to consider a verdict. 

20th January 1998, at The Old Bailey in London, Whomes, and Steele, were both found guilty and sentenced to life behind bars. 
Michael Steele and Jack Whomes were each given three life sentences after a jury of eight women and four men returned unanimous verdicts.
The trial cost an estimated £1.5m and jurors received round-the-clock police protection.

February 2006, Whomes and steele lose an appeal against the conviction.
Lawyers argued that a media deal struck by "supergrass" witness Darren Nicholls made his evidence at the 1998 Old Bailey trial unreliable, this was rejected.

February 2013, The High Court refused to grant Micheal Steele a judicial review into the decision by the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

January 2016, a further appeal is rejected. Whome and Steele both still maintaining their innocence.

2018, Whomes 25-year sentence was reduced by two years due to his "exemplary conduct" whilst in prison.

25th January 2021, after a Parole Board hearing, it was announced that Jack Whomes would be released from prison on licence after serving 23-years behind bars.

March 2022, Micheal Steele has had his prison status downgraded. the former category-A prisoner can be moved to a less secure prison.

March 2023, A former criminal has told a Sky TV documentary crew that the two men convicted of the Rettendon Range Rover triple murders could be innocent after admitting on tape that he was "at the table" when the hit was planned by a Brink's-Mat crook using a different hit-man. 
The man, now in his 50's, was interviewed by producers of a Sky TV three-part series on the  gangland murders, to be aired in April 2023.

Mick Steele is due a parole hearing in May 2023.


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