West 'involved up to her neck in killings'

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Rosemary West was involved "up to her neck" with her husband, Frederick, in the nine Cromwell Street killings, Winchester Crown Court was told yesterday.

"Frederick and Rosemary West were in it together and on that basis you can be sure that these allegations are proved," Brian Leveson QC, for the prosecution, said in his final speech to the jury. He said Mrs West also killed Charmaine West, eight, daughter of Rena, her husband's first wife,while Mr West was in prison.

Mr West's claims in taped interviews with police that his wife had not been involved were described as "absolutely worthless" by Mr Leveson who said he had repeatedly lied to detectives. Mrs West, 41, denies murdering 10 girls and young women whose remains were found at the couple's house at 25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, and at their previous home. Mr West who was charged with 12 killings was found hanged in his prison cell on New Year's Day.

Summing up the prosecution case yesterday Mr Leveson said: "We have all every one of us travelled to a place which plumbs the depths of human depravity where we have been forced to consider what human beings can do to one another.

"Rosemary West would have you believe that she saw no evil, that she heard no evil and she spoke no evil. We submit that this flies in the face of all common sense. At the core of this case is the relationship between Frederick and Rosemary West, what they each knew about each other, what they did together, what they did to others and how far each was prepared to go. Much of what follows can be explained in the context that both were obsessed with sex."

Mr Leveson said Mrs West was "intelligent, tough and resourceful" but that her memory of events at the centre of the case had been "extremely selective". Describing the couple's relationship he said: "The picture from all the witnesses is that not only were they a devoted couple but also you may think she was the strategist ... Mr and Mrs West were truly perfect together. I can only start to show what a liar he was, how devoted he was to Rosemary West and how he protected her. What I cannot do is by doing this in the most effective way, which is by asking him questions to which he has no answer.

"His death was the greatest gift he could give her and that is exactly what he said," Mr Leveson told the jury.

Mr Leveson said that the relationship between Mrs West and Charmaine West, whose remains were found at the Wests' former home at 25 Midland Road, Gloucester, "was marked by aggression and antipathy.

"The Crown contend that the evidence points conclusively towards Mrs West having been responsible for her death," said Mr Leveson, and added that if the jury accepted the evidence of Caroline Owens, who described how she was abducted and sexually assaulted by the Wests in 1972, "she does provide the blueprint for all that was to follow".

Describing the killings of the victims found at 25 Cromwell Street Mr Leveson said: "Nine times were remains hidden in the grounds of Cromwell Street, nine times. The cleaning up operation alone we submit establishes that Rosemary West was up to her neck in what was going on. Rosemary West is trying to hide behind Frederick West to cover up her part in the abuse and death of these girls. We submit that there is no doubt that Rosemary West was involved in violently sexually abusing them. We submit that from that evidence you can and ought to conclude that she herself intended that each of these girls should die ... or at the very least suffer serious bodily harm."

Mr Leveson said that at the very least Mrs West was a party to the killing of Shirley Robinson, a lodger who was pregnant by Mr West, even if she did not actually kill her herself. He also told the jury that Mrs West had constantly changed her story about the disappearance of her daughter Heather, whose remains were found at Cromwell Street.

The trial continues today.