How many more did they kill?

Ten life sentences for Rosemary West as police name other possible victims
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The Independent Online
WILL BENNETT

Rosemary West was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in jail yesterday after the jury at Winchester Crown Court decided she was guilty of 10 murders, including the killing of her daughter and stepdaughter.

But Rosemary and Frederick West's murderous tally does not end there.

Frederick West probably killed more than 30 women, sometimes alone but often in a deadly partnership with his wife. Together they were Britain's biggest serial killers.

As soon as the sentences were handed down by Mr Justice Mantell, there were immediate calls for an inquiry into how the pair could have operated under the noses of the authorities for so long. It is believed that West was visited by police and social service officers on around 60 separate occasions.

Gloucestershire police defended their record. "Hindsight is a wonderful thing," said Detective Superintendent John Bennett, who led the West murder inquiry.

The trial ended dramatically, with a shout of "hooray" from the public gallery, as the seven remaining verdicts were announced by the male jury foreman yesterday. Rosemary West, 41, had been found guilty of three murders on Tuesday.

She showed no emotion as the judge told her: "On each of the 10 counts of murder on which you have been unanimously convicted by the jury, the sentence is one of life imprisonment. If attention is paid to what I think, you will never be released," he said before telling prison warders: "Take her down."

Rosemary West will serve her sentence in the women's wing of Durham maximum security jail, which also houses the Moors murderer, Myra Hindley.

Throughout the 31-day trial, she had denied murdering the 10 girls and young women whose remains were found at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, and at the Wests' previous home in the city.

The prosecution alleged that she had been involved "up to her neck" with her husband in the killings. Seven of the victims had been stripped, tied up, gagged and kept alive for days while they were sexually abused.

But she said she knew nothing about the murders, which she blamed on her husband. Frederick West confessed to 11 of the 12 murders with which he was charged. He committed suicide in his cell at Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, on New Year's Day.

On Tuesday, the jury of seven men and four women convicted Rosemary West of murdering her eldest daughter, Heather, her stepdaughter, Charmaine West, and Shirley Robinson, a lodger who was pregnant by her husband.

Yesterday, after more than 12 hours of deliberation and having spent two nights in a hotel, the jury convicted her of murdering Lynda Gough, Carol Cooper, Lucy Partington, Therese Siegenthaler, Shirley Hubbard, Juanita Mott and Alison Chambers. They all met a terrifying end as sexual slaves in the Cromwell Street cellar.

Convictions on the seven murder counts given yesterday had depended entirely on the discovery of the remains at Cromwell Street and "similar fact" evidence that the Wests had used gags and bindings in sexual assaults on three women who survived.

The jury returned at 12.25pm yesterday to ask the judge whether the absence of direct evidence against Rosemary West was an obstacle to guilty verdicts. He told them it that need not be, provided they drew the same inferences from the evidence as had the prosecution.

At 12.52pm they returned with seven unanimous guilty verdicts. In the public gallery Anne-Marie Davis, Rosemary West's stepdaughter, who was sexually abused by both the Wests, clasped her hands together as in prayer. Afterwards Leo Goatley, Rosemary West's solicitor, said: "My client is totally devastated. She wept uncontrollably after hearing the verdicts of the jury. She continues to maintain her innocence and retains the love and support of her children."

Mr Goatley said that she would fight the verdicts: "We are actively pursuing an appeal on her behalf."

He condemned the media for approaching witnesses for their stories."Freedom of expression and the right of the public to know does not include the intrusive press activity that has blighted these proceedings."

Joan Owen, mother of Alison Chambers, whose remains were found under the patio at Cromwell Street, said: "I am grateful that everyone in the country and the world knows exactly what those people did."

Kathryn Halliday, a key witness in the trial, who had described how she had an increasingly violent lesbian relationship with Rosemary West, said: "She is an evil woman. She should never come out."

Gloucestershire Police defended their record even though they failed to connect a sexual assault by the Wests on Caroline Owens in 1972 with the disappearance of Lynda Gough a few months later. The force, which spent pounds 1.7m on the case, was commended by the judge for its "meticulous" inquiries.

A report by The Bridge, an independent child care consultancy, highlighted mistakes made by health and social services. It also criticised the NSPCC for losing a crucial file. The NSPCC said that it "bitterly regretted" not having taken the case referred to it more seriously.

The missing women of Cromwell Street

n Marilyn, a white woman in her late 30s in 1973 and thought to have been a devout Christian.

n Donna Lynn Moore (or similar), described in 1973 as white, 13 or 14- years-old. The slim pretty girl spoke with an American accent and may have been the daughter of a US serviceman from East Anglia.

n Name not known, but police issued photograph of full-faced brunette with rosy lips, thought to have been taken when she visited in 1975.

n Maria Ann, a white woman in her early 20s in 1991. Had long blonde hair and may have been a student.

n Mireeker or Marieka (or similar), a white woman in her late 20s in 1977-78, possibly from Holland.

n Name not known, a white woman aged between 18 and 20 in 1978.

n May have been called Ingrid, a white woman aged around 18 in 1978-79, possibly of German origin.

n Marilyn, an 18 or 19-year-old with long blonde hair in 1973.

n Name unknown, a white woman aged 17-20 in 1973 with blonde hair and a Swedish or Dutch accent.

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