Cops dig up cafe to search for missing schoolgirl who could be Fred West victim

Forensic archaeologists have excavated a cafe in the continued search for Mary Bastholm – over new information that claims she may have been one of serial killer Fred West's victims.

The three experts are helping police to sweep the cellar of the Clean Plate Cafe, Southgate St. after suspicions that the body of the missing 15-year-old could be buried there, Gloucestershire Live reports.

A fireplace will be dismantled to enable the use of their specialist equipment.

It has been more than 53 years since Gloucester girl Mary Bastholm went missing, and there are fears that she could have been murdered by notorious serial killer Fred West.

Reports claim a documentary crew alerted police to potential evidence of a body while they were filming there on May 7.

Today (May 13) the force has shared an update advising that three forensic archaeologists have attended the cafe cellar and are helping officers to assess the scene.

The statement added: "They are using geophysical survey equipment and in order for this work to be done a fireplace needs to be dismantled."

Police are expected to remain at the cafe for several weeks as they follow up on what could be a major breakthrough.

The work currently being carried out is an assessment of the premises – not excavation.

These assessments will take place over the coming days prior to any digging.

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A force spokesman advised yesterday: "We plan to continue forensic assessments at the location until Monday, before a more considered decision around the extent of excavation can be made."

In other reports from Gloustershire Live, police had allegedly refused to search the café before despite having a lead in 2012.

A petition made just under a decade ago called for police to excavate the café after a witness claimed he had seen West doing construction work at the venue during the time she disappeared.

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Chris Roberts worked at a motorcycle dealership nearby and said he saw the serial killer laying a basement floor.

However, the then Chief Constable Tony Melville said it was “not true” that West lay a basement there or performed any construction work.

Mr Melville told the Citizen in 2012: “This is not true. The owner of the cafe was in possession of the property long before Mary disappeared and no work took place on the building until the late 70s. None of that work was conducted by West.”

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He added there was also no truth behind the claim Mary’s exercise book was found in the brickwork.

In a letter to Mr Roberts, he said: “The tenant contacted police in 1994 about a book he had discovered amongst junk and rubble in the basement – not in the brickwork.

“It was an old cafe diary which was not connected to Mary. It had no relevance to Mary or her family."

To get live updates on the investigation visit Gloucestershire Live's live blog.

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