Fred West 'seduced me with his lies'

Rose tells of life at Cromwell Street
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The Independent Online
Frederick West promised his future wife, Rosemary, "the world" after they met at a Gloucestershire bus stop while she was still a teenager, she told Winchester Crown Court yesterday.

"He had promised me the world, promised me everything and because I was so young I fell for his lies but because I was so young I did not realise they were lies at the time. He promised to love me and care for me and I fell for it."

In a dramatic opening to her defence case, Mrs West, 41, who denies murdering 10 girls and young women, spent most of yesterday in the witness box, giving an often emotional account of her life, often weeping as she told of her marriage to Frederick West. He was charged with 12 murders and was found dead in his prison cell last New Year's Day.

Richard Ferguson QC, opening the defence case, told the jury: "I want to tell you now, I want to tell you as loudly and clearly as I can that Rosemary West is not guilty of any of the counts on this indictment."

A short, dumpy, bespectacled figure, dressed in a black jacket and a bottle-green skirt, Mrs West left the dock for the first time in her trial.

She told the court that on her first date with Mr West, when she was just 15, he gave her a fur coat and a lace dress. He was living in a caravan with his two children, Anne Marie and Charmaine. Mrs West said she enjoyed looking after them. Within weeks she had begun a sexual relationship with Mr West, to her parents' horror.

In October 1970, Heather, their first daughter, was born and the couple went to live at 25 Midland Road, Gloucester. Soon afterwards, Mr West was sent to prison for stealing a tax disc and Rosemary had to bring up the three children alone.

She said that Charmaine West, the daughter of Mr West's first wife Rena by another man, had been difficult and disruptive and Fred arranged for the girl to return to her mother.

The Wests married and moved to 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, where the remains of nine girls and young women were found last year - five of them in the cellar. Mrs West said she rarely helped her husband renovate the cellar because she was so frequently pregnant. "He used to say it was not a place to have pregnant women or small children. He would just lock off the doors and do whatever he was doing."

Mrs West told the court that shortly after Mr West came out of prison he started pressurising her to have sex with other men. She said her husband forced her to go out to pubs to pick up men.

Increasingly she and her husband began to lead separate lives and she began to have lesbian relationships.

Mrs West was passed photographs of Carol Cooper, Therese Siegenthaler, Shirley Hubbard, Lucy Partington and Juanita Mott, five young women whose remains were found in the cellar. Asked by Richard Ferguson QC, defending if she had ever seen them, she replied: "No, Sir."

Mrs West also told the court that she had tried to stop the sexual assault on Caroline Owens in 1972 when she realised that the girl had not consented to sex with herself and her husband. Both the Wests were subsequently fined after pleading guilty to assault and indecent assault.

"As soon as she put up resistance, as soon as I realised that she was against this, that she did not agree with it in any way I stopped. All I can remember is being very frightened. Fred was a threat at this moment in time.

"I was pleading with Fred all the time for it to stop. I didn't want to get involved in anything like this. I didn't want Caroline to get hurt. It was just a mess."

She said Mrs Owens, who told the court about being raped by Mr West ,had exaggerated "for her own reasons".

Teenage misery, page 2