Julie Mugford

Information on this web site was first uploaded to the internet in December 2011.

Julie Smerchanski (nee Mugford) was Jeremy Bamber’s girlfriend at the time of the tragedy. Originally from a working class background she must have felt that she had done very well on the social scale when she dated the good looking, intelligent, wealthy and public school educated Jeremy Bamber. At the time Julie was studying to be a teacher at Goldsmith’s college in London, during the summer she worked with young children on a nursery project.(1) After the shootings she even went to the mortuary to identify the bodies of Nevill, June, Sheila and Nicholas and Daniel Caffell on the 7th of August 1985. (2) 

Julie had not been very happy in her relationship with Jeremy and towards the end of August she had realized that it was all but over after Jeremy had publicly announced that he would not be getting engaged to her when Brett Collins had jokingly announced that they would be betrothed. Collins was a Homosexual friend of Jeremy’s whom Julie disliked intensely. Collin’s believed that Julie wanted the relationship with Jeremy to move on to a commitment and that Jeremy had not felt the same way. (3)

In her 17th December 1985 statement she states that by the 1st September she had said to Jeremy; “I would really love to hurt him and told him that I tried to stab the teddy bear that he had given me as a present.”  Julie goes on to state that that night “We didn’t sleep well and at one point I got a pillow and put it over his head, I took it off and he asked me why I did it, and I said if he were dead he would always be with me.” 

By the 4th of September 1985 the reality of the relationship ending had become all too real for Julie when she discovered Jeremy talking on the phone to another woman called Virginia, with whom he had planned to start a relationship with. He was making arrangements to meet her and Julie was furious. Julie had realized that her relationship with Jeremy was over and smashed a mirror by throwing an ornament at it in a fit of rage, she then physically attacked Jeremy. Jeremy finished their relationship and Julie found this difficult to accept and denied that it ever happened. After this she saw Jeremy only once more when he and Brett helped her move house in London and she described the parting as being on a “reasonable happy note.” Although clearly Julie had not felt happy about the parting at all. (4) 

On the 8th September attended witham police station, after Stan Jones had ensured she was “reported for process” she was charged with burglary as detailed by Mr Adams of the DPP the charge was then curiously withdrawn on the 5th of December 1985, he said in a handwritten addendum: “I also agree the burglary charge can be withdrawn”.

She went from Witham police station to the police training School in Chelmsford, in the process claiming expenses from police, where she made statements claiming that Jeremy had told her he had hired a hit man called Matthew McDonald to kill the family for the payment of £2,000. (5) But previously on the 8th August 1985 she made a statement to the police saying quite the opposite. Her story now shifted to say that Jeremy had called her at home after the hit man had called him to tell him he had committed the killings. She said that when Jeremy rang he just said that there was something wrong at the farm. She took that to mean that the murders had been committed. The tone of the call had changed in Julie’s new description, and in this version the time of the call had now shifted from 3:30am in her original statement to 3:12am. The Defence believe this was done to put Jeremy’s call to her prior to him calling the police. (6)

Julie now claimed that Jeremy had mentioned many times that he intended to kill his family, and yet according to her – she did nothing, even after the killings were carried out, she did nothing. Julie, a trainee school teacher, who had been working with children went and identified the bodies of 6 year old murdered children and said nothing. For a whole month Julie Mugford did nothing. She would have us believe that she still loved, slept with, ate with and took money off of a man who had murdered his whole family in cold blood and her excuse for this was that she “felt sorry for him” and that she “couldn’t believe it was real.” (7)

Julie Mugford told the court that the hit man told Jeremy that Nevill Bamber had been shot 7 times.(8). The newspapers had reported that Nevill Bamber had been shot 7 times and yet the truth was that Nevill Bamber had been shot 8 times. Julie Mugford’s evidence came from local gossip about the tragedy, newspaper articles, and from Ann Eaton who had been given information by police officers. The court was aware of this, and unconvinced by her evidence the trial jury could not reach a verdict. After deliberations the judge asked if they wanted to see any evidence again which might help them make a decision,(9) they asked to see the evidence of the blood in the moderator, when they did they found Jeremy Bamber guilty by a 10-2 majority.

Julie Mugford had been approached by various newspapers with offers of money for her story. She instructed a solicitor months before the trial to negotiate a deal with the highest bidder which was the News of The World. She was already in a hotel with (DS Jones and another police officer) paid for by The News of The World as the verdict was given, where she posed for photographs provocatively dressed and smiling for the camera then accepting a cool sum of £25,000 for her story which even by today’s standards is a lot of money, in 1985 this would have been a princely sum. She states that she spent the money on an apartment. If Julie Mugford had signed the contract before giving her evidence she would have been in contempt of court. The fact that she arranged this contract pre-trial did not break the letter of the law. It shows that Mugford had pre-meditated to obtain money, and all but signed a contract for her story upon a guilty verdict this in an unsuitable action by a key prosecution witness.(10)

In 2002 for the appeal (the Metropolitain police investigation being headed under the supervision of John Yates), the Defence tried to obtain a copy of the contract she signed. Apparently her solicitor no longer held a copy of the document and neither did the News of The World. Nevertheless, she made a statement to the police about this contract under her married name of Julie Smerchanski, and states “I clearly skim read the contract and missed a lot of the detail today I read all the small print.” This would be interpreted by you or I that on the day she wrote the statement she read a copy of the contract. But the CPS argued that this is not what she meant. Paul Close of the CPS states in a letter on the 22nd of July 2002 to Jeremy’s Defence lawyer:

‘The witness is clearly saying that in 1986 she “skim read” the document but today (as she is no doubt older and wiser) she would always read the small print. “I read” is clearly in the present tense and a general observation. She is not saying “today I have read”.’

The CPS maintains that the contract was NOT in existence in 2002 and that it could not be established when Julie signed the contract, indeed Julie herself says that she “couldn’t remember when it was signed.” 

Back in 1987 the Press Council had ruled that the News of the World had broken their declaration of principle on cheque book journalism. Anyone can see that in this instance the media interfered with the judicial process as Julie’s money spinning deal was signed upon a guilty verdict.

After the trial Julie Mugford went on to live in Canada and in 2006 she even took up a post as the Vice Principal of a primary school in Winnipeg. She is currently Director of Assessment and instructional support services for the Winnipeg School Division.

Back in 1991 the City of London Police had investigated Essex Police they detailed a list of crimes which Julie had confessed to carrying out undetected These included, taking cannabis, selling cannabis, accessory to burglary at the caravan park, smuggling drugs back into the UK from Canada, and cheque book fraud. (11) Julie Mugford was never charged with any of these offences officially, but documents newly surfaced show that she was charged with burglary and this was withdrawn with permission from the DPP’s office, in the same document Julie is also advised she will be called as a prosecution witness. At the 2002 appeal the Defence put forward the suggestion that Julie Mugford and her friend and co-fraudster Susan Battersby had been given immunity from prosecution as a trade off for Julie’s testimony against Jeremy Bamber but the documents relating to this were under Public Interest Immunity. (12)

DCI Dickinson had interviewed Julie Mugford and her mother in 1986 after the trial but the interviews have never been disclosed to the Defence. The City of London Police suspected that Julie Mugford was given immunity from prosecution and after they followed the paper trail to the CPS they discovered that there were documents not to be disclosed to the Defence. Indeed the CPS had in their possession a file known as the “Confidential Crown Prosecution Service File relating to Julie Mugford and Trial preparation by Essex Police.” This file was passed to the Senior Crown Prosecutor known as Mr Stephen Swan. For the 2002 appeal the Metropolitan police tried to trace this file and took a statement from Mr Swan who stated that “I cannot remember who gave me the file, or who I gave it to after I had finished reading it.” The mystery remains: What happened to the confidential file and what was in it and is it right that the Defence should be denied access to these materials?

The Defence has also suggested that Julie’s statements were not written in the first person, senior police officers even questioned why she was writing in the third person. The grammar used in many of the statements is well below the standard of a student doing a degree at Masters level which further suggests that Julie didn’t write all of the statements herself. For example she told police “Matthew done it.” (13)  During the period when Julie and her friend gave statements she was put up by police at their training centre and claimed expenses.Quite incredibly she was also seen by DS Jones the principal detective in this case no less than 32 times. (14)

We will leave the reader to draw their own conclusions about the reliability of evidence supplied by Julie Mugford. Whatever you decide, there can be no doubt about how much financial benefit she gained from the conviction of Jeremy Bamber, money she would not have received had the jury’s verdict been ‘not guilty.’

Footnotes

1) 17.12.85, J R Mugford Statement

2) 10.9.85, J R Mugford Statement

3) 09.09.85 & 01.10.85 Statements, 8.9.85 Interview, B Collins

4) 8.9.85 J R Mugford Statement

5) 10.09.85 J R Mugford Statement

6) 23.09.85 J R Mugford Statement

7) 23.09.85 J R Mugford Statement

8) Trial Transcript, J R Mugford

9) Judge’s Summing up Trial Transcript

10) 12.04.02 & 11.04.02, J R Mugford Statement

11) City of London Police file notes, Offences Admitted to by J R Mugford

12) Appeal Judgement 2002 & Letter from DDP’s office June 1991

13) Police Action report extract  Folder 1,000 – 1600 & 23.09.85, J R Mugford Statement

14) DS Jones, Listings, J R Mugford Police meetings

THERE IS DOCUMENTAL EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT EACH STATEMENT ON THIS WEB PAGE IN FOOTNOTES OR IN LINKS ON EACH PARAGRAPH

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