True crime, gangs, drugs, murder, Essex Boys, Rettendon Murder

Rough Justice? Drugs, Murder, and Corruption: The Essex Boys Story

This tale of one of the most infamous gangland murder cases in British history continues to endure, and intrigue, more than 25 years later

11 min readMay 7, 2021


Photo by GRAS GRÜN on Unsplash

Disclaimer: There are a lot of voices involved in this case. I have tried to include all of them at various points, along with news sources. There is no intent to offend, just to look at what has been reported, or published. I do not directly reference any of the films, primarily because the only one I saw, bore little resemblance to what has been reported. I cannot speak to any of the others (there are a lot).


Based on the title of this article alone, you could be forgiven for thinking that this British triple murder case has all the makings of a film. You would be right, to date no less than 11 films have either been made or are in production, based on this crime.


In March 2021, it was reported that Jack Whomes, one of the two men found guilty of the infamous “Essex Boys” murders in Rettendon in 1995 was released from prison. Whomes was sentenced to three life sentences in 1998, and it was recommended he serve at least 23 years in prison. Since his conviction, Whomes, and his co-defendant, Michael Steele, have insisted they are innocent.[1] Whomes is subject to strict license conditions banning him from entering certain areas or contacting relatives of the victims. Whomes is reportedly awaiting a decision by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, expected later this year. Steele is still in prison after a Parole Board blocked his release or a move to open conditions in 2019.


The story appears to have begun on 11 November 1995 when 18-year-old Leah Betts, from Latchingdon in Essex, took an ecstasy (MDMA) tablet and then drank approximately 7 litres of water in a 90-minute period. Four hours later, Leah collapsed into a coma from which she never recovered. Life support was withdrawn on the morning of 16 November 1995. The volume of water consumed…




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