Rosemary's children stay loyal

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Two of Rosemary West's children believe she is innocent of murder even though they suffered the violence which she inflicted on youngsters at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester.

Stephen West, 22, and his sister Mae, 23, describe in a television documentary to be shown tonight how they were shocked when the jury at Winchester Crown Court convicted their mother of 10 charges of murder. They also talk about the beatings and sexual abuse which characterised their upbringing.

Both say that the case could have come to light years earlier if those in authority had asked the right questions. Stephen also says that his father, Fred West, who was charged with 12 murders and who committed suicide in prison, told him that at one stage he came close to giving himself up to police.

In the BBC1 documentary, Inside 25 Cromwell Street, Stephen describes how his mother called him home from school, made him strip naked and tied his hands to the base of a toilet where she beat him with the buckle end of a belt for 20 minutes before accusing him of stealing sex magazines.

Mae describes how her father sexually abused his older daughters. "He said that all fathers broke their daughters in," she said. "He used to say the first born of a daughter should be the father's."

Stephen says that when he visited his father when he was on remand on sex charges in 1992 "he started saying he had been covering up stuff from all of us. He said his life began when we went to sleep at night."

"I asked him what he meant but he wouldn't elaborate. He said it had been going on for years and went back to when he was in Scotland. He said it was a worse crime than anyone could imagine and the police would find out soon and he would never leave prison."

After Fred was arrested for murder Stephen spoke to him in prison. "He told me he would never tell anybody the whole truth, only what they needed to know. He said it was worse than I could imagine and he had no intention of telling everything."

Both children say that they did not realise how abnormal life in the West household was. Mae explains: "We had nothing to compare it against because we were never really allowed to go to other friends' houses."