Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Fred & Rose West

Updates

Updates March 1998 - December 1998

My Father the Killer

On Wednesday, March 25, 1998, four years after the sentencing of Rose West, the case was again in the news when BBC News Online reported that Fred Wests son Stephen had told authorities that he was convinced his father had killed 15-year-old waitress Mary Bastholm.

Stephen told police, that while visiting his father in prison in December 1994, Fred West had boasted that Bastholms body would never be found. He said his father talked of other victims and told his son: They are not going to find them all, you know, never.

Stephen then specifically asked him about Mary.  His father replied: I will never tell anyone where she is.

Bastholm was last seen alive at a Gloucester bus stop on January 5, 1968 while on her way to meet her boyfriend.  At the time of her disappearance she was carrying a Monopoly game, pieces of which were found strewn over the ground near the area where she was abducted.

While no hard evidence was ever found, police had long considered Bastholm to be yet another victim of Fred West, a claim that West had strenuously denied although Bastholm had been seen in Wests car.  West had also been a regular a customer in the café where Mary worked and had carried out building work at the rear of the premises.

Mary's brother Peter is also convinced she was abducted and murdered by West.  He told BBC {News Online} that he was relieved by the news but, because his parents had both died without learning the fate of their only daughter, he would never rest until Marys body was found.

Family Trait?

On Wednesday, May 20, 1998 the West case was back in the news when BBC News Online reported that William Hill, a cousin of Fred West, had been jailed for four years after being convicted of one count of rape and three charges of indecent assault.

Like his infamous cousin, Hill preyed on young women and one of his convictions related to the indecent assault on a fifteen-year-old girl over an extended period during 1980 and 1981.

Two cousins, Fred and John West both hanged themselves in prison prior to their convictions.  Ironically, Hill also attempted to take his life in the same prison where Fred West had ended his. He was later moved to a mental facility.

Conspiracy of Silence

Two months later, British politicians joined the victims families in expressing their outrage when it was announced that a television drama, based on the exploits of Fred and Rosemary West, was to be made.

The announcement concerned the commissioning of a four-part drama series titled Conspiracy of Silence.  The series was commissioned by Channel 5, London and made by Portman Entertainment, the company that bought the film rights to Fred West's biography and archive material in 1997.

Relatives of the victims were shocked and horrified and accused the companies involved of cashing in on the hideous crimes of Fred and Rosemary West.

Greg Day, a spokesman for Channel 5, defended his companys position saying the project was not intended to capitalize on the crimes but merely to educate a large percentage of the population who were looking for answers:  We are aware that the key to understanding what happened at 25 Cromwell Street is understanding sexual abuse.  A lot of it will be uncomfortable because it will deal with that but that is a valid part of the story which needs to be understood.

As a result, Home Secretary Jack Straw told the BBC that his government would be looking at ways to prevent criminals profiting from their crimes by selling the book and film rights to their stories.

Hideous Confessions

On Thursday, June 4, 1998, BBC News Online continued their coverage of the case when they reported that Janet Leach, the voluntary worker who had been appointed to sit-in on police interviews while Fred West confessed to his crimes, was seeking the right to sue the police for damages.

Leach claimed she suffered post traumatic stress disorder after being subjected to Wests hideous confessions in 1994.

Leachs lawyers described how their client had attended 40 interviews over several months and had become traumatised while listening to the most harrowing and horrifying details of West's crimes.

Her lawyers also claimed that Leach was not offered counselling by the police, even though it had been offered to police officers and at least one solicitor involved in the case.

Leach suffered a stroke in November 1995 when she was giving evidence at the trial of Rosemary West resulting in the trial being delayed for several days after Leach lost the power of speech but later recovered enough to return and conclude her testimony.

Her original claim for compensation was thrown out in November 1997 after a judge at the Bristol County Court ruled it would not have been fair, just or reasonable to say the police owed her a duty of care.

Since that time her lawyers have sought three separate appeals to have the decision overturned on the grounds that police should have been aware that having to spend hours and hours with one of the most notorious mass murderers of the 20th century gave rise to a risk of psychological injury.

They stated that Leach had previously worked for a voluntary organization that worked with the homeless and only had experience acting as an appropriate adult for mentally disordered youths.

Apart from being in attendance at the West confessions, Leach also accompanied West to his Cromwell Street home where the victims had been tortured, killed, dismembered and buried.  She was also taken to a field where the remains of another victim had been buried.

Chief counsel for Leach, Roderick Denyer, told BBC News Online: The police offered counselling to their own officers and didn't offer it to her. To impose a duty of care in this case is not unreasonable.

In response, Simon Freeland, acting on behalf of the Gloucestershire police, said: The force's code of practice requires that a person suspected of having a mental disorder could only be interviewed by police if an appropriate adult was present to protect their interests.  He also said that the police had not appointed Mrs Leach, and there was no contractual agreement with the police therefore they were not in a position to override the legitimate choice of West or his lawyers that she should be the appropriate adult in the case.

Old Bones

On Saturday, December 19 1998, Gordon Burn, the author of a new book about the West murders, was interviewed by detectives in relation to dozens of missing bones related to the case.  The book Happy Like Murderers took Burns over three years to write and involved extensive research.

The Chief Constable of Gloucestershire police, Tony Butler, and Detective Chief Inspector Terry Moore, interviewed Burn for over an hour regarding his theories on the whereabouts of numerous bones which were missing from several of West's victims.

Chief Inspector Moore had taken charge of the case following the retirement of Detective Superintendent John Bennett.  Moore told BBC News Online: Out of all the books it's probably the best written and the most interesting but there is a certain amount of journalistic licence.  He has got some things right and some things wrong.

Referring to the bones, Moore added: There are various theories but nothing has come to light. The secret has gone to the grave with Fred and Rose not saying anything.

Previous evidence given during Rosemary Wests trial by pathologist Professor Bernard Knight indicated: the bones - ranging from small finger and toe joints to entire shoulder blades - must have been removed prior to burial.

Burn became a person of interest when he suggested in his book that Fred West may have buried them near Pittville Park in Cheltenham, as the park is close to the bus stop where Fred and Rose first met in 1970.  Burns believes the location holds an almost spiritual significance for the Wests.

Burn, who also wrote a book about the Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, was questioned at length regarding his research and asked wether he had been given any assistance by currently serving or retired police officers. 

Updates November 1999 - October 2000

Shame and Blame

On Thursday, November 18, 1999, Anne-Marie Davies, the daughter of Fred West was pulled from a river in Gloucester after a member of the public reported seeing someone fall from a nearby Bridge.  Following the rescue, Davis was taken to Gloucestershire Royal Hospital for treatment but was later discharged.

Davies had previously attempted suicide by taking an overdose of tablets during her stepmother's trial but survived after she was rushed to hospital and had her stomach pumped.

On Sunday, 5 March 2000, Court TV reported that Rosemary West had secured legal aid funding and was preparing an appeal in an attempt to clear her name.

West was expected to apply to have her case referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which investigates miscarriages of justice.

According to her lawyer, Leo Goatley, West may unearth new photographic evidence, which would prove that her husband, Fred West, was the sole killer.

He also claimed his client could be cleared by anatomical photographs of women which were taken by Fred West and seized by police during an earlier investigation in 1992.  He asserts that the photographs were time stamped when they were taken, which could help his client prove she was not there.

The original photographs were allegedly destroyed but Goatley said his client was confident copies would have been made or details of the photographs chronicled by police.

He told reporters: The issue here is whether Rose West got a fair trial.  I have always believed her situation was different to Fred West's. She has always maintained her innocence.  There are a number of issues regarding disclosure and chequebook journalism that are worthy of review and I feel would have contributed to her not getting a fair trial.

In response, Gloucestershire Chief Constable Tony Butler said: We believe that all material was disclosed to the Crown Prosecution Service during the case.  We have no idea what the current issues being raised by Mr Goatley are, and suggest he contacts us through the proper channels.

A previous appeal, launched in 1996 was rejected.

On Friday, 20 October 2000, the promised appeal was launched when her lawyer faxed a skeleton argument to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

He told BBC News Online: An application to review the case has been made on the basis that she didn't get a fair trial for a number of reasons, which I am not going to go into. 

 

Updates July 2001 - October 2001

A Career in Tatters

On Monday, 23 July 2001, former prison officer Lynn Armstrong announced that she was suing the British Home Office because she was encouraged to befriend Rosemary West while West was on suicide watch in Winchester Prison.

Armstrong claims she was so traumatised by her exposure to the notorious killer in Winchester Prison it left her under the illusion West was innocent.

Her counsel, Andrew Bulhan, told Londons High Court that his client had spent more time with West than any other officer.

Bulhan told BBC News Online that the shock of West's conviction for horrendous crimes had driven his client into a depression which transformed from being an ambitious and highly motivated woman officer into a grumpy, argumentative, belligerent and, I'm afraid, disillusioned prison officer until she was medically retired.

He stated that her superiors in the prison system had failed to protect her against the risk of psychiatric injury associated with prolonged exposure to one of the worst mass killers Britain has ever produced.

Armstrong was seeking £50,000 compensation.

Many More

On Thursday, 27 September 2001, BBC News Online reported that the makers of the documentary detailing the crimes of Fred and Rosemary West had called for a public inquiry into police and social services failings, which allowed him (Fred West) to continue killing women for 25 years.

The programme includes an interview with social worker Janet Leach who attests to the fact that Fred West had confessed to killing many more than the 12 victims he was charged with.  "Fred said that there were two other bodies in shallow graves in the woods but there was no way they would ever be found.  He said there were 20 other bodies not in one place but spread around and he would give police one a year.  He told me the truth about the girls in the cellar and what happened to them so I don't see why he would lie about other bodies.

Derek Jones, the director and co-producer of the programme, told BBC News Online: There definitely needs to be a public inquiry.  No one has even scratched the surface of this case. They should look at the failures of social services and police in Gloucestershire in the 1970s and 1980s.  Social services had 300 missing files and 100 missing girls. There were two girls from Jordansbrook children's home who were making a living as prostitutes from 25 Cromwell Street.

He told reporters that questions should been asked regarding Charmaine, the Wests eldest daughter who disappeared in 1970.  West claimed she had moved back to Scotland to be with her mother and social services failed to follow that up.

He compared the case to that of serial killer Harold Shipman where a public inquiry had revealed Shipman was responsible for the deaths of a greater number of victims than he was charged with.

The program also describes how West told his solicitor that he believed the spirits of his victims were coming up through the floor from the cellar where they were entombed.

West allegedly said: When they come up into you it's beautiful, it's when they go away you are trying to hold them, you feel them flying away from you and you try to stop them.  You can't send them back to where they were

Giving Up

On Sunday, 30 September 2001, The London Mail reported that Rosemary West had abandoned the latest appeal against her conviction and had resigned herself to spending the rest of her life in prison.

Speaking for the first time since her conviction she also expressed a desire to apologize to her daughter Ann Marie for the abuse she suffered.  In a statement released to the Mail, West said: Despite everything, I should like at some stage to apologize to Ann Marie.  Ann Marie is part of my family and I would love to be reconciled to her and have contact with her.

She told the Mail that she was dropping her appeal because she felt she would never be free, even if released.  She also stated: she had come to understand herself, and her relationships with others, for the first time in her life.

End of the Road

On Monday, 8 October 2001, Lynn Armstrongs claim against the Home Office was rejected.  After the judgment Armstrong told reporters: This is not a tragedy. What happened in New York was a tragedy. Life goes on.   She was refused leave to appeal but can still apply directly to the Court of Appeal. 

Latest Updates October, 2001 to January, 2003

After watching a 3-part Channel 5 documentary on Fred & Rose West in early October of 2001, Gloucestershires chief constable Tim Brain told the BBC that he thought it was sickening and unjustified.

Gloucestershire police found the broadcast out of context, hyped by inaccurate allegations and in poor taste. The police were not opposed to documentaries dealing with the West case, but other issues:

Tim Brain explained: What we object to is the use of this prosecution material which is subject to legal privilege. Our second concern is the feelings of the families of victimsWe believe any programme-makers should handle this matter extremely delicately.

Caroline Roberts, 45, who was abducted and sexually assaulted by the Wests, agreed that the documentaries should never have been shown, especially in the entertainment business.

Parmjit Dhanda, MP (BBC)
Parmjit Dhanda, MP
(BBC)

The fact that a documentary was permitted to be made using police interviews of Fred West was the subject of a bill introduced in March of 2002 into Parliament by Gloucester MP Parmjit Dhanda to prohibit the sale of criminal evidence.

Fred West had not made a will before he committed suicide in Birminghams Winson Green Prison on New Years Day in 1995.  Therefore the tapes of his interviews were never heard in court because his death occurred before his trial.  In order to maximize the value of the Wests estate, the official solicitor offered Wests possessions, including the tapes of his interviews, to the highest bidder which was Creative Consortium, a film production company

Dhanda told the House of Commons that: [The programme] showed Fred West describing his crimes in great detailIt showed pictures of victims, faded in and out against pictures of their skeletal remainsIt shows Rose West undressing in front of the camera and in bed with her clients.

Had West not killed himself before his trial and almost certain conviction, the British government would have owned that evidence.

While Dhandas bill is unlikely to become law, the bill gave him the opportunity to say his mind about this controversial issue.

As controversial as the West documentary was, the Broadcasting Standards Commission (BSC) in March of 2002 reported that the 3-part series was a serious, unsensationalised effort to understand the Wests criminal behavior.

The BSC told BBC News that the idea of the series was to place the killings in context to gain an insight into why they took place and how Fred West evolved from a sex offender to a serial killer.

In August of 2002, Edinburghs forensic psychologist Dr. Keith Ashcroft thinks that Fred Wests insatiable sex needs were caused by a severe head injury after a motorcycle accident that occurred when he was a teenager.

Ashcroft theorized that frontal lobe damage may be partially responsible for sexual deviancy, although genetic defects or birth injuries could also contribute.  Unfortunately, he has not been able to get access to Wests autopsy reports to determine if his theory can be substantiated.

Ashcroft believes that extreme killers and pedophiles have brain abnormalities. Their impulsivity, lack of contact with reality, and inability to engage socially is linked to the frontal lobe of the brain its where our conscience is.

On November 25, 2002, British Law Lords ruled that power exercised by the British home secretary to increase minimum sentences given to murderers was incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.

Home Secretary David Blunkett will push for new laws establishing minimum sentences for certain crimes, such as the sexually-motivated murders committed by Rose and Fred West.

Rose Wests minimum sentence was 25 years for the murder of 10 women. However, the home secretary later decided that she would serve a whole-life sentence.  Rose West announced in 2001 that she intends to stay in prison for the rest of her life and has abandoned her appeals.

___________

On Wednesday, January 22, 2003, BBC News reported "the wedding between jailed serial killer Rose West and Slade bass player Dave Glover has been called off - just days after it was announced. The pair have been writing to each other for a year, but Mr. Glover is reported to have pulled out because of the publicity."  West and Glover surprised the world when they announced their marriage on Sunday, January 19.

By way of explanation for the broken engagement, Rose West said she wanted to give "this young man his life back." 

Her lawyer, Mr. Leo Goatley claimed that: "She sounded quite matter of fact when she told me the news. She just said 'I want you to tell the press that the relationship is at an end.'" 

Reuters reported that a spokesman said, "It has all come as an incredible shock," said a spokesman. "At no point had Dave Glover discussed this. It's like marrying Hitler."  Slade said Glover, 36, had been working regularly with them over the last 18 months, but that he was a session musician and his contract had now been terminated. 

 

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