DIGGING in the cellar and garden of Fred and Rose West’s home, officers gagged as they came across body after body – and evidence of the horrific ways they died.
Nine of the 12 known victims of the twisted couple were uncovered at 25 Cromwell Road, Gloucester, in 1994, by police investigating the disappearance of their daughter Heather.
In a new Channel 5 documentary airing tomorrow, Fred and Rose West: The Search For The Victims, Fred’s lawyer Howard Ogden reveals how the gruesome discoveries had a profound effect on all involved.
“I remember one particular grave. It was a skull that was wrapped round with masking tape and coming out of the nostrils of the skull were two little pipes that enabled the victim to breathe,” he says.
“That was an example of someone who had been treated in that way and would have had digits and so on removed and would have been in agony and would have been asking to die.
“And in Fred’s warped mind he’s done her a favour.”
Beams in the cellar were found to have holes drilled into them, consistent with the victims being strung up from the ceiling while they were beaten, raped and tortured by the couple.
Bindings and bondage suits were also found at the house.
“The excavation of the cellar had tangible, real evidence of the fate of those victims,” says Leo Goatley, Rose West's lawyer.
“There was a picture emerging, sadistic sexual abuse, resulting in their lives ending, whether deliberately through stabbing or strangulation or through just total abuse and neglect and expiring whilst they were, for example, strung up in the cellar."
'Enjoyment turned to disaster'
The documentary, which includes interviews with investigating officers and forensic experts involved in the case, centres on the search for the couple’s victims and the recent reopening of the hunt for Mary Bastholm, who disappeared in 1967.
In chilling police tapes, recorded after the findings, Fred West’s voice can be heard calmly denying that the deaths were intentional – and even suggesting the sex was just fun that went wrong.
“You’re trying to make out I just went out and blatantly killed somebody,” he tells the interviewing officers.
“No. Nobody went through hell. Enjoyment turned into disaster. That’s what happened with most of it, anyway.”
The victims – some as young as 15 – were picked up by Fred and Rose when they were hitchhiking or waiting at bus stops, and were offered a room and work as a nanny.
Their 20 year killing spree began with in 1967 with Fred’s pregnant mistress Anna McFall. Four years later, Rose murdered her eight-year-old stepdaughter Charmaine, in July 1971, while Fred was in prison.
Her remains were later found under the kitchen floor at the couple's previous address in Midland Road and Fred then murdered Charmaine’s mother, Rena West, when she came to collect her daughter.
Strangled 16-year-old daughter
Shortly afterwards, they began raping and murdering girls and women after picking them up in their car, killing at least eight more.
The spree ended after the murder of their daughter Heather, then 16, who they buried under the patio in 1987.
In another tape, Fred described strangling the teenager in a chillingly matter-of-fact way.
“I didn’t grab her round the neck to choke her or do nothing,” he says. “All I was going to do was to grab her round the neck and shake her.
“It’s surprising how long somebody can you round the neck before you, er….” The voice trails off before he says the word “die’.
In another interview, Fred refers to Lynda Gough, a 21-year-old student who was the first victim to be murdered for sexual kicks.
At Rose West’s 1995 trial, her mother said she had turned up at the Cromwell Road house looking for her daughter and was told she had moved on – but Rose was wearing her slippers and her clothes were hanging on the line.
Fred said he was horrified that callous Rose could wear the dead girl’s clothes.
“She’s wearing the girls shoes and she’d killed her for f***’s sake,” he says. “And her dressing gown…
“She said ‘I washed it’. I said, 'F***ing hell, what are you?'”
Fred and Rose West’s tragic victims
The nanny of Fred and his first wife Rena West’s children, McFall was believed to have been murdered in 1967.
She was pregnant when she died, with West believed to have been the father. Her body was found in June 1994 in a shallow grave.
Fred West’s stepdaughter from his previous marriage, murdered at eight by Rose in 1971.
Rena is believed to have been murdered by strangulation. Rose was not charged for this murder.
Lynda Gough was the first sexually motivated killing conducted by the Wests, after she moved into Cromwell Street in April 1973. Strangulation and suffocation were the likely causes of death.
Carol Ann Cooper
Cooper was murdered in November 1973, aged just 15.
On the night of November 9, she was allowed to spend the night at her grandmother’s house before a doctor’s appointment the next morning.
She attended the appointment and then met her boyfriend, before somehow ending up on Cromwell Street.
A 21-year-old medieval English student at Exeter University, she returned home for Christmas in December 1973.
She left a friend’s house in a rush to get the last bus from Cheltenham to Gretton on 27 December, with it believed she was abducted from this bus stop. Her dismembered body was buried in the cellar of Cromwell Street.
A 21-year-old Swiss sociology student at Woolwich Polytechnic.
She had planned to hitch-hike to Ireland in Easter 1974. Her family reported her missing having not heard from her for some time.
Prosecution believe she was abducted before being killed, with Fred West later building a fake chimney over her grave.
Just 15 at the time of her death, Hubbard is believed to have been abducted by the Wests.
Her body was found following an excavation in the concrete and plastic membrane of the cellar floor.
In the summer of 1974, Mott moved into 25 Cromwell Street but later went missing when she was living in Newent.
Her body was found in March 1994, 19 years later, with West having concreted over the floor of the cellar.
The first victim buried outside the house, Robinson had an affair with Fred West, and by autumn 1977, she was pregnant with West’s child.
It was initially claimed she had moved to Scotland but her body was later found.
The last murder with a sexual motive established. She disappeared just before her 17th birthday, having been seen at 25 Cromwell Street throughout the summer. Her body was buried underneath the patio.
Sexually abused by her parents, she suddenly went missing in 1987, with Rosemary claiming she had gone to Wales to be with a lesbian partner.
The couple would joke to their other children that they would “end up under the patio like Heather” if they misbehaved. This, and their changing stories, led to the search warrants for the property and latertheir arrests.
Mary Bastholm – possible 13th victim
Disappeared in 1968 from a bus stop in Gloucester, at the age of 15. Mary's remains have never been found.
Bound, gagged and tied to metal ‘contraption’ in cellar
The West’s own children were among the surviving victims of the sadistic abuse, with Anne Marie, Mae and Louise all testifying to being raped from a young age.
Giving evidence at Rose’s trial Anne Marie, Fred’s daughter from a previous relationship, said she had been abducted and taken down to the cellar by the couple then bound, gagged and strapped to a metal contraption that Fred had made at work before being beaten and raped.
Caroline Owen, the only kidnapped victim to escape alive was also tied up in the cellar and raped for hours, having her genitals beaten with a belt by Fred before escaping the house.
Fred admitted to 12 murders before he hanged himself in his cell, in 1995. Rose was jailed for life for ten murders, in 1995.
Howard Ogden says those who witnessed the horror at Cromwell Raod will never forget it.
“The effects of the West case are still being felt. And I think they always will,” he says. “All of us who were involved affected to the grave.”
Fred and Rose West: The Search for the Victims airs on Monday night on Channel 5
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