CONVICTED murderers jailed for life for a triple shooting have launched another bid for freedom.

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is looking at fresh evidence in the so-called Essex Boys murders where Michael Steele, from Great Bentley, and Jack Whomes, from Suffolk, were convicted for at the Old Bailey in 1998.

Patrick Tate, Anthony Tucker and Craig Rolfe, who were shot dead in a Range Rover on an isolated farm track at Rettendon in a dispute over drugs in December 1995.

Steele and Whomes have always protested their innocence in connection with the shooting which was carried out with a pump action shotgun.

The killings have been adapted to feature in a number of well known films including an adaptation called Essex Boys starring Sean Bean.

This is the fourth time the case has been reviewed, while an appeal in 2006 was eventually dismissed.

In May, Whomes had his minimum tariff cut from 25 years, to just over 23 because of exceptional behaviour in prison.

Mrs Justice Cheema-Grubb decided to cut Whomes' tariff by one year.

The judge pointed out that by imposing a tariff lower than the 25 years set by the home secretary, Whomes "will not necessarily be released any sooner than he would otherwise have been".

She said: "In all the circumstances, for this dreadful crime following which the applicant has demonstrated exceptional progress in custody, I impose a tariff of 24 years, less 617 days spent on remand."

She added: "Release is a matter for the Parole Board but a reduction in the tariff would mean that the Parole Board can consider whether Whomes is safe for release earlier than it would otherwise be able to do."

The killer is housed in a category C prison and the Judge referred to "powerful evidence" that he "has effected a transformation in his own life".

She added: "The real merit in his application is as a long-term prisoner who has demonstrated exceptional progress and reduced the degree of risk he poses.

"It is right for that progress to be recognised."

Steele launched a £100,000 damages claim dismissed after he was attacked in a kitchen at HMP Whitemoor, near Peterborough, in 2010.

He suffered a bad cut, damaged teeth and a fractured eye socket in the assault.

After a four-day county court hearing, Judge Simon Freeland QC refused the 75-year-old’s damages bid against the Ministry of Justice.