Fred West house to be demolished

Contractors will begin work on Monday to demolish completely the Cromwell Street home of serial killers Frederick and Rosemary West and a derelict neighbouring building.

The street will be sealed off to traffic and a police guard mounted to stop ghoulish souvenir-hunters plundering the house and garden for relics of where Fred West buried nine of the couple's victims.

Gloucester City Council announced yesterday that it had bought the property, where the Wests lived for two decades, for pounds 40,000 and the neighbouring building for an undisclosed sum.

Contractors will work or 15 days until the last vestiges of the building have gone - the bricks will be removed one by one; the timbers burned, and the fittings melted down. The bricks and mortar are to be crushed, mixed with other general waste, and then used to fill prepared holes in undisclosed parts of the giant council waste tip at Hempsted, and immediately covered over. At the end of the demolition an inches-thick concrete "cap" will cover the cleared site. The city council said that the strategy of complete destruction was decided on because of the "sensitive nature of the site".

The wrought-iron sign "25 Cromwell Street" which epitomised the House of Horrors is at the centre of a legal tussle. Senior members of the West family are understood to have laid claim to the sign which was removed by Gloucester Police within days of the arrest of Fred and his wife Rosemary - to deter souvenir hunters. It has remained under lock and key at Gloucester's Central Police Station, awaiting a legal decision on its future. Gloucester City Council want it destroyed, but police must first decide who should be given it.

West, 53, hanged himself on 1 January 1995, in his remand cell at Birmingham Prison while awaiting trial on 12 murder counts. His wife, Rosemary, 42, is serving life imprisonment after being convicted of murdering 10 girls and young women, including her daughter Heather, 16, and eight-year-old stepdaughter Charmaine.

A survey company, Robertson Bell Associates, is to carry out a public consultation exercise on the site's future and will take in views of relatives of victims and local residents. The costs of this and the demolition are expected to reach pounds 40,000. Cash from the sale of the West's home will be sent to the Official Solicitor, who is overseeing Frederick West's estate for the benefit of his five youngest children, four of whom are still in care.

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