Lie detector evidence is acceptable in many courts when accompanied by other corroborating evidence.  What is fascinating is that it’s often used by police to help imprison people but seldom used to liberate prisoners.

The case of Jeremy Bamber, who has served over 30 years in prison, is intriguing to say the least. He was convicted in 1986 of shooting and killing five family members.  The murders took place at the home of his adoptive parents, White House Farm, Tolleshunt D’Arcy, Essex. The victims included his parents, his adoptive sister and her two children.

From day one Bamber has protested his innocence and was convicted on largely circumstantial evidence.

Early life

Jeremy Bamber was born on 31 January 1961 as Jeremy Paul Marsham.  His then single mother decided to put him up for adoption, following her affair with a Sergeant Major in the British Army. He was adopted by June and Nevill Bamber, wealthy farmers, when he was 6 months old.

Despite every effort being made to give him the best private education, Bamber didn’t do very well at school. This angered his father but Bamber went on to pass 7 O Levels at a Colchester College.

After he left college in 1978, Nevill paid for him to visit New Zealand and Australia. He became involved in some criminal activity in New Zealand including breaking into a jewellery shop. One of two luxury watches stolen from the shop he sent to his girlfriend, Claire Powell, in the UK. He also bragged to her that he was involved in heroin smuggling.  He left New Zealand under a cloud, when friends of his were allegedly involved in an armed robbery according to his cousin.

Back in the UK, Bamber worked as a waiter and barman before returning to White House Farm to work for his father.  He was allegedly unhappy with the low pay despite having been provided with a car and a cottage some 3 miles away.  He wasn’t expected to pay rent and also owned an 8 per cent share in a nearby caravan site business that his family owned.

A short while before the tragedy it was alleged that Bamber had wrecked and stolen from the caravan business.

The motive the prosecution focused on was the fact that Bamber would benefit from a huge inheritance.

Lie Detector Evidence

In 2007,  having been incarcerated for over 20 years Bamber took a lie detector test hoping it would help to prove he was innocent.  The test lasted for almost 2 hours focussing mainly on 3 questions:

  1. When asked if he had shot his family on 7 August 1985 he responded “no”.
  2. Asked if he had shot 5 family members on the same date with an Anschutz rifle he again responded “no”.
  3. When asked if he had been in the property when 5 family members were shot with an Anschutz rifle, his response was “no”.

Terry Mullins, an expert polygraph examiner, recorded “no deception indicated” (NID). He went further in proclaiming that he was convinced of Bamber’s innocence.

If lie detector evidence was acceptable on its own, Jeremy Bamber would not be in prison today.  As it stands, with 3 failed appeals behind him liberation still eludes him.