Witness's illness delays West trial

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The Independent Online

The murder trial of Rosemary West was adjourned until Monday yesterday because a witness who collapsed on Tuesday was not fit to continue giving her evidence.

Janet Leach was taken to hospital in Winchester when she became unable to speak or move during the lunch time adjournment.

Mrs Leach, 39, who suffered a stroke last year, had told the court that Mrs West and her husband Frederick made a pact by which he would take all the blame for the murders with which they were charged.

She said Mr West told her this during conversations she had with him after she was appointed as an impartial observer to sit in on scores of police interviews with him last year.

Richard Ferguson QC, for the defence, had not finished cross-examining Mrs Leach, who was visibly distressed when giving evidence, when she was taken to the Royal Hampshire hospital by ambulance.

Mrs West, 41, denies murdering 10 girls and young women whose remains were found at the Wests' house, 24 Cromwell Street, Gloucester, and at their previous home in the city. Mr West, who was charged with 12 murders, was found hanged in his prison cell on New Year's Day this year.

During three days in the witness box Mrs West told the court that she played no part in the killings, which she blamed entirely on her husband,

Yesterday Mrs Leach's condition was assessed by a consultant who submitted a report to the court. After reading it Mr Justice Mantell told the jury Mrs Leach was not fit at present to continue with her evidence.

The adjournment will delay the finish of the trial which had been expected to end in the middle of next week.