Step-daughter Charmaine was first to die

WILL BENNETT

Heather West, Charmaine West and Shirley Robinson had three things in common. They were all - for different reasons - part of the West household, they did not get on with Rosemary West and they all suffered the same fate.

Yesterday, Rosemary was convicted of murdering all of them. The remains of Heather and Shirley were found at the Wests' home, 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, while Charmaine's skeleton was dug up at their former home in the city, 25 Midland Road.

Heather was her daughter, Charmaine was her husband Fred's step-daughter from his first marriage and Shirley was a drifter from a broken home who went to live at 25 Cromwell Street.

Charmaine was the first to die, disappearing at the age of eight in 1971. She was the daughter of Rena West - West's first wife, whom he later admitted murdering - by another man.

When West met Rosemary in 1969 he was looking after Charmaine. The couple went to live at 25 Midland Road in 1970 and the girl went to live with them as did Anne Marie, Rena's daughter by West.

In November 1970, Fred West was arrested for dishonesty offences and later sent to prison for 10 months. Rosemary West was only 17 and was left to look after Rena's two daughters and Heather, her first child by West, who was then a baby.

The jury at Winchester Crown Court was told by Brian Leveson QC, for the prosecution, that "there is clear evidence that Charmaine was greatly disliked by Rosemary West" because she loathed the child's rebellious nature.

One day Tracey Giles, Charmaine's best friend who lived next door, was sent by her mother to the Wests' to borrow a pint of milk. She walked in and saw Charmaine standing on a chair with her hands tied behind her back with a belt.

Rosemary West was holding a large wooden spoon and looked as though she was about to hit her. When Tracey's mother later asked her about it she said that Charmaine had been naughty and had to be punished.

Charmaine disappeared about June 1971 and the prosecution alleged that Fred West was still in prison when she vanished. Anne Marie Davis, Charmaine's half-sister, told the court that one day she came home from school and was told by Rosemary West that Charmaine had gone to live with her mother. She said that at the time her father was still in prison and that she and Rosemary West went to visit him there after Charmaine had vanished.

When Tracey Giles later asked where Charmaine was, Rosemary West said: "Gone to live with her mother and bloody good riddance." In fact she was buried at 25 Midland Road.

Shirley Robinson was a lodger at 25 Cromwell Street when she disappeared aged 18 in May 1978. She was pregnant by Fred West and when her remains were found at the house last year the bones of an unborn child were with them.

She came from a broken home and moved into Cromwell Street about April 1977. She began a sexual relationship with Fred West and the court was also told that she had lesbian sex with Rosemary West.

She flaunted her relationship with West and they were often to be seen hugging and kissing. Mr Leveson told the jury that Rosemary West's initial acceptance of this turned to jealousy and there was tension in the house.

Elizabeth Brewer, a lodger at Cromwell Street, said that Shirley was frightened of the Wests and that one day she returned to find Shirley had vanished. She told the court that Rosemary West was in the house that day and that Fred West and the lodgers were probably out at work.

She said that the next day the Wests seemed very happy and told her that Shirley had gone to live with relatives in Germany.

The remains of Heather, the Wests' oldest daughter, were the first to be found at Cromwell Street last year. She was 16 when she disappeared in 1987 and police later became suspicious when they could find no trace of her. Mr Leveson said: "It is quite clear that there were growing frictions between the Wests and their oldest daughter. This may have been the normal problems of adolescence, it may have been more serious problems."

Rosemary West said in evidence that her relations with Heather were not good but that she had loved the eldest of her eight children and knew nothing about her killing.

The Wests gave various explanations for Heather's disappearance after she vanished. They told one person that she had gone to Wales with a lesbian and another that she had left home after assaulting the younger children when she was baby-sitting.

Rosemary West said that she had spoken to Heather on the telephone after she left home. But when the police went to 25 Cromwell Street with a search warrant in February last year they found Heather's remains buried in the garden. She had been dismembered, like Shirley Robinson.

The victims: All of them had fallen foul of Mrs West and all three suffered a terrible fate

Charmaine West, aged 8.

The daughter of Rena, Frederick West's first wife, and another man believed to be an Asian bus driver. In and out of care after her mother and West split up. A rebellious, strong-willed child who was disliked by Rosemary West.

Last seen in June 1971 while West may still have been in prison. Rosemary said that she had gone to live with her mother. Her remains were found at 25 Midland Road, Gloucester, the Wests' former home, on 4 May 1994.

Shirley Robinson, aged 18.

Born in Leicestershire, she was the daughter of a British father and a German mother. Like many of the Wests' victims she was from a broken home. She was eight months pregnant by Fred West when she disappeared in May 1978.

Rosemary became jealous because West was so fond of Shirley and tension rose. She was never reported missing, and friends were told she had gone to Germany to visit relatives. A foetus was found alongside her remains in the Cromwell Street garden.

Heather West, aged 16.

The victim who began the murder inquiry. She was Frederick and Rosemary West's eldest daughter. There was growing friction between Heather and her parents. She was last seen in June 1987. Her parents' explanations included a claim that she had eloped with a lesbian. Police became suspicious when they could find no trace of her.

Detectives arrived at 25 Cromwell Street with a warrant to search for her remains on 24 February 1994.

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
News
Who makes you happy?
happy listSend your nominations now for the Independent on Sunday Happy List
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit