Rettendon murders

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The Rettendon murders (also known as the Range Rover murders or Essex murders) occurred on 6 December 1995 in the village of Rettendon in Essex, England, when three drug dealers were shot dead in a Range Rover down a small farm track.

The incident was followed by a major police investigation – Operation Century – and has been the subject of many books and feature films.

Triple murders[edit]

On 6 December 1995, Rettendon was the scene of the triple murder of Tony Tucker (38), Patrick Tate (37) and Craig Rolfe (26), three drug dealers shot dead in a Range Rover down a small farm track.[1] The three men were found the following morning by farmer Peter Theobald and his friend Ken Jiggins.

Friend of the victims, and only surviving member of the main alliance, Carlton Leach now lives in Essex and has written and talked about the murders and his memory of his late associates.[2]

Police investigation[edit]

Operation Century produced no arrests or evidence leading to a criminal prosecution. A prosecution that was eventually brought in connection with the murders was based on police operations subsequent to the closure of Operation Century.[3]

Criminal convictions[edit]

Two men, Jack Whomes and Michael Steele, were convicted of the murders on 20 January 1998 after an Old Bailey trial, and sentenced to life imprisonment. The key witness was police informer Darren Nicholls, who gave evidence against his former friends at their trial.[3] Questions were raised over the reliability of mobile phone records used to corroborate the informant's testimony. Over the last two decades the pair have unsuccessfully challenged their convictions.[4]


The films Essex Boys, starring Sean Bean; Rise of the Footsoldier; Bonded by Blood; The Fall of the Essex Boys, Essex Boys: Retribution (2013); Essex Boys: Law of Survival (2015), Rise of the Footsoldier: Part 2 (2015), Bonded By Blood 2 (2017) and Rise of the Footsoldier 3 (2017) are all based – to varying degrees – on the crime.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bennett, Will (8 December 1995). "Leah Betts link to triple killing-Drugs squad probe gangland murder". The Independent. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  2. ^ "Information on the Rettendon murders from the Website Essex Boys". Bernard O'Mahoney. Archived from the original on 26 March 2012. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  3. ^ a b Kim Sengupta (23 October 2015). "Life for men who killed dealers in Essex drug sting". the Independent. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  4. ^ "'Essex Boys' murders: Mum will 'fight till dying day'". BBC news. 6 December 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • Leach, Carlton (2003). Muscle. Blake Publishing. ISBN 978-1-904034-48-3
  • O'Mahoney, Bernard (2006). Bonded by Blood: Murder and Intrigue in the Essex Ganglands. ISBN 9781845961640
  • Rugby, Ken and Thompson, Tony (2000). Bloggs 19: The Story of the Essex Range Rover Triple Murders. Sphere. ISBN 9780751522419

External links[edit]