Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Julie Mugford, afraid for her life.

Sunday Mirror April 21st. report from Winnipeg.

THEN, she was the beautiful 21-year-old brunette whose evidence was vital in convicting her boyfriend Jeremy Bamber of the cold- blooded murder of his whole family.

Now, she is a respectable and matronly mother-of-two, a tireless charity worker and the deputy head of a primary school in Canada.

Everything about Julie Mugford's life has changed except for one crucial fact - she is still utterly convinced Bamber DID slaughter his adoptive parents Nevill and June, his sister Sheila Caffell and her twin six-year-old sons Nicholas and Daniel at the family's Essex farmhouse in 1985.

Bamber, 39, was given five life sentences for the killings. At the trial, Julie's evidence that he had bragged to her about committing the perfect murder and phoned her before the slaughter to say: "It's tonight or never" was vital in securing a guilty verdict.

He is now relying on DNA evidence not available 15 years ago to fight his conviction, and if successful could be free by Christmas.

Julie, now 36, said: "I thought this was long in the past. The last few weeks have been a nightmare. As far as I am concerned nothing has changed - I sincerely believe he is guilty. Do I stand by my original story? Yes, absolutely. I always assumed he would be in jail for life.
"And while I fully accept that new forensic techniques could throw new light on the case I still believe he is guilty. He has a right to appeal, that is the law. It is just very hard for me to accept.
"At this stage the appeal process is so sketchy that I have no idea what is going on."

A friend added: "It is somethingJulie has never really recovered from. Ultimately it was her evidence that put him behind bars and it is something she still has nightmares about. She still grieves for his family and wonders if she could have averted the murders by telling the police about his scheming beforehand."

Julie now fears she could be called to give evidence at the appeal - and last week she consulted Canadian lawyers for advice.

"She dreads having to face Bamber again in court. And she's afraid he could come after her and her family if he is freed. It's tragic. She has been so happy here in Canada."

Initially, police accepted Bamber's claim that ex-model Sheila, suffering from depression in the wake of her marriage break-up, killed the family then turned the gun on herself.

But as he attracted attention by spending his pounds 500,000 inheritance on champagne, drugs and a lavish lifestyle, police pressed his girlfriend of three years to tell them what she knew.

Julie,  who stood alongside Bamber at the family funeral as he cried what prosecutors called "crocodile tears," finally gave in when he humiliated her by asking out another girl in front of her.

After giving her evidence, Julie fled Britain to travel the world.

In Australia in 1990 she met Canadian Glen Smerchanski.

"They fell in love but it was a long, long time before she could bring herself to tell him about her life," the friend said. "It was only after he asked her to marry him and move to his home town of Winnipeg that she began to open up.

"He knew she was running away from something but it took her a long time to tell him. Gradually Glen coaxed it out of her and, bit by bit, the whole sorry story came out.

"Glen reassured her constantly, telling her the past didn't matter. Even so, she didn't want his family to know. He even kept it from his mother."

When Julie first left Britain in 1986 she promised her mother Mary she would return for a big white wedding. So after briefly setting up home with Glen in Winnipeg, the couple married in Essex in July 1991. The following month they had an church blessing in Canada.
Julie worked as a special needs teacher while Glen built up a career as a computer salesman, then she also began doing volunteer work for a charity for sick children and helping Glen collect money door-to-door for the Salvation Army.

Five years ago the couple's son Benjamin was born, followed by Hannah, now two.
Julie continued working and was recently appointed vice-principal at John M King Elementary, an inner- city junior school. Only two weeks ago they moved into a detached house with its own swimming pool in one of Winnipeg's best suburbs.

"Julie is a pillar of the community - you would never believe she was once tangled up in a mass murder," her friend said.

"The Bamber case was kept a complete secret. Only Glen and a handful of people knew about it."

Sandy-haired Glen, 40, said: "I've known about this for many years, but we only told a few family members and very close friends. Julie just wishes it would all go away and we could get on with our lives.

"We just can't believe this man could be freed. We are worried about our kids. We hope it never happens."