Rosemary West on 10th murder charge

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Rosemary West was yesterday charged with the murder of Charmaine West, the daughter of her husband's first wife, bringing the total number of murder charges against her to 10. Despite speculation that charges would be dropped after the death in pr ison of her husband, Frederick, the Crown Prosecution Service announced that the case would go ahead.

Frederick West, 53, who had confessed to killing 12 women and girls, was found hanged in his cell in Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, on New Year's Day. An inquest into his death was opened and adjourned. It is believed that he committed suicide. Nine v ictims were found buried at the couple's home in Cromwell Street, Gloucester.

In answer to the latest charge, Mrs West, 41, mother of eight, said: "I am innocent."

Leo Goatley, her solicitor, said that the evidence against her was flimsy and called for the prosecution to be dropped. The CPS announced a review of the case in the light of her husband's apparent suicide, prompting speculation that it might be abandoned.

However, a spokeswoman for the CPS said yesterday: "The Crown will seek Rosemary West's committal to the Crown Court on a total of 10 charges of murder."

The committal hearing, at which her lawyers will argue that she has no case to answer and that her chances of a fair trial have been prejudiced by publicity, will begin at Dursley magistrates' court, near Gloucester, on 6 February. It is expected to lasta week. Peter Badge, the chief metropolitan stipendiary magistrate, will decide whether the case should go on to the Crown Court.

Detective Superintendent John Bennett, the officer leading the murder inquiry, said that Mrs West was yesterday charged at the Pucklechurch remand centre, near Bristol, with murdering Charmaine West between 1 May and 31 December 1971. She had already been charged with the murder of the nine women found at Cromwell Street.

Charmaine, who was eight when she disappeared, was the daughter of West's first wife, Catherine, 25, and he was accused of murdering them both. The girl's remains were found at 25 Midland Road, Gloucester, where he lived with Rosemary in the early Seventies.

It was believed that Charmaine was West's daughter but Det Supt Bennett said yesterday: "It is not thought that Frederick West was her natural father."

He added: "She was last seen in May 1971 when she was living at 25 Midland Road, Gloucester."

West married Catherine, then 18, in November 1962. She was already pregnant. Charmaine was born the following March and police believe her father was an Asian bus driver, a former boyfriend.