Tension rises as verdict is delayed

Rosemary West trial: Jury spends night in hotel after five hours weighing evidence
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The Independent Online

The jury in the Rosemary West murder trial was sent to a hotel last night after failing to reach verdicts during nearly five hours of deliberations. They will resume their discussions this morning.

The seven men and four women were sent out at 11.44am yesterday by Mr Justice Mantell, who told them to take their time. The judge finished his summing up, which had lasted more than two days, by telling jurors that they must consider whether Mrs West had ever told lies.

In particular, they must consider what she had said about Caroline Owens who was sexually assaulted by Mrs West and her husband Frederick, and Lynda Gough and Heather West, whose remains were found at the Wests' home.

Mrs West, 41, denies murdering 10 girls and young women whose remains were found at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, and at the Wests' previous home in the city. Mr West who was charged with 12 murders was found hanged in his prison cell last New Year's Day.

The judge said: "Of course whether in any particular incidents Rosemary West has told lies is for you to say. She has not admitted telling any lies, but suppose you were to find that she had. The mere fact that a defendant has told a lie is not in itself evidence of guilt. A defendant may lie for many reasons." He said if the jury thought that there was an innocent reason for the lie they should disregard it, but if it was for another reason such as to mislead an investigation "then the lie may be evidence of guilt".

He went on: "You could come to the conclusion that Rosemary West lied about hearing from Heather [the Wests' daughter]. Suppose you came to the conclusion that Rosemary West was telling Mrs Gough [Lynda's mother] lies about Lynda having gone to Weston-super-Mare. Suppose you were to find that it was a lie that Mrs Gough had never been to 25 Cromwell Street. Rosemary West told you that she had tried and tried to remember Caroline Owens, even though she had the newspaper report [of the Wests' prosecution] and had kept it all those years.

"Suppose you came to the conclusion that she had told you a lie about that, and came to the conclusion that there was no innocent explanation, then once again you have to consider whether that is evidence supporting the prosecution."

The judge said that the evidence of Mrs Owens, Anne Marie Davis, Mrs West's step-daughter, and a woman referred to only as Miss A, who were all sexually assaulted by the Wests, was important.

"In relation to all three of them, you have been told by the witnesses about the use of restraints, gags, tape, force and sexual abuse. The Crown say that in the case of seven of the charges you have to consider that that evidence is capable of illuminating the circumstances which must have preceded death. The inference which the Crown invite you to accept is only available to you if you accept the evidence of these witnesses, not otherwise."

The judge said that in relation to Charmaine West the daughter of Mr West's first wife, the prosecution case was that Mr West had been in prison at the time of her death leaving Rosemary West in sole charge.

He said that in the case of Shirley Robinson, a lodger whose remains were found at Cromwell Street, the prosecution case depended on antipathy, motive and the evidence that Mrs West was in the house when she met her death. It was also alleged that the Wests had lied about her disappearance.

"So far as Heather is concerned antipathy, opportunity and once again lies," said the judge. But he warned that they should not "pass moral judgements" on sexual relationships in the Wests' household.