Rosemary West guilty of three murders

Cold stare of a woman who killed her own child
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The Independent Online
WILL BENNETT

Rosemary West showed no emotion yesterday as she was convicted of three murders, one of them the killing of her eldest daughter, Heather.

The jury at Winchester Crown Court was unable to reach a verdict on the seven other murders with which she is charged and spent their second night in a hotel. They will resume their deliberations this morning on the alleged murders of seven young women who, the prosecution say were tied up, gagged, stripped and sexually abused at the Wests' home at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester.

The murders which Rosemary West, 41, was convicted of yesterday were those of Heather West, her daughter, Charmaine West, her husband Frederick's step-daughter from his first marriage, and Shirley Robinson, a lodger.

West looked pale and was breathing heavily as she stood in the dock to hear the jury foreman answer "Guilty" three times when asked what the jury's verdict was.

She showed no emotion but after the first two verdicts there were gasps in the public gallery directly above her and a woman believed to be a relative of Charmaine's mother, Rena, who was murdered by Fred West, left weeping.

The verdicts did not come together. Just after 3pm, after nine hours' deliberation, the jury convicted her of the murders of Heather and Charmaine West.

Heather disappeared in 1987, aged 16, and her remains were the first found at Cromwell Street by the police in February last year. The court had been told that there had been growing friction between the Wests and their eldest daughter.

Her body had been dismembered and decapitated like all the remains of the nine young women found at Cromwell Street. None of her clothes or possessions were ever recovered and her disappearance was never reported.

Fred West admitted murdering Charmaine, who disappeared aged eight in 1971, and her remains were found at the Wests' previous home, 25 Midland Road, Gloucester. The court had heard that West, then 17, had been left to look after Charmaine when Fred West was sent to prison in 1971. The prosecution alleged that Charmaine disappeared while Fred West was still in jail.

AT about 4.30pm, the jury of seven men and four women returned having agreed that West was also guilty of the murder of Shirley Robinson. She had had a sexual relationship with FredWest and was pregnant by him when she disappeared. She also had a lesbian relationship with Rosemary West.

The prosecution alleged that Rosemary West had become increasingly jealous of Shirley and that there had been tension in the house.

The jury foreman said they had not reached verdicts on the other seven murder charges and they were sent away to an hotel for the night by Mr Justice Mantell, the judge.

Rosemary West has denied all the murders throughout her eight-week trial at Winchester, blaming the killings on her husband. In taped interviews with police he admitted the murders and said that his wife was not involved.

During three days in the witness box Rosemary West said she knew nothing about the murders which the prosecution has alleged were a joint enterprise with her husband.

Fred West, who was charged with 12 murders, was found hanged in his cell in Birmingham's Winson Green prison on New Year's Day.

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