Police begin drilling in basement of cafe in search for suspected Fred West victim
Forensic archaeologists are carrying out excavations at the Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street in connection with the disappearance of the teenager, who was last seen alive in January 1968.
Gloucestershire Police had received possible evidence from a TV production company to suggest the body of the missing girl could be buried at the location.
Investigators found a number of structural anomalies within the cellar that warrant further exploration and six voids in the floor will be examined. West, who died in prison in 1995 aged 53, was previously suspected over Mary's disappearance.
However the former lawyer for Rose West, Leo Goatley, told The Independent he believed the “voids” were unlikely to be connected to Bastholm.
Hello and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the police search for Mary Bastholm, a suspected victim of the serial killer Fred West.
Detectives to begin excavating Gloucester cafe
Police are preparing to start digging work beneath a Gloucester cafe in the hunt for a suspected victim of serial killer Fred West, after finding possible evidence that she may be buried there.
Excavations will begin on Wednesday at the Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street, where detectives’ probe will focus on “six voids” discovered in the floor of the cellar.
Police have confirmed they are searching the premises in connection with the disappearance of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, who was last seen less than two miles away at a bus stop on Bristol Road in January 1968.
Here is the full story from our reporter Chiara Giordano, who is at the scene in Gloucester:
Locals hope for ‘closure’ as detectives act on possible evidence from TV production company about 1968 disappearance of Mary Bastholm
What we know about Mary Bastholm
Forensic archaeologists have been undertaking exploratory work at the Clean Plate cafe in the city’s Southgate Street in connection with the disappearance of Mary Bastholm.
So what do we know so far?
Bastholm was 15-years-old when she disappeared in January 1968. She was last seen alive waiting at a bus stop on Gloucester’s Bristol Road.
She worked at the Clean Plate at the time – the place where West’s first known victim, Anne McFall, was also employed.
Read more about Bastholm’s disappearance here:
Teenager disappeared in 1968 while waiting for bus - now police are excavating a cafe basement where West is thought to have done renovation work
West ‘is the only one who really knows if he had involvement in Mary’s death'
Detective Chief Inspector John Turner, who is leading the investigation, said West was a regular at the cafe where digging is taking place - then called the Pop-In - and knew Mary Bastholm as she worked there as a waitress.
"Fred West was always indicated as being involved in Mary's disappearance and possibly her death," Mr Turner said.
"We will be searching the basement to find out what, if anything, is there. If anything is found we will carry out a forensic review and we will look to seek people within the investigation that we need to interview.
"If Fred were alive, undoubtedly he would be interviewed around the disappearance of Mary.
"He is the only one who really knows if he had involvement in Mary's death.”
Police contact West’s son for help
Fred West’s son, Stephen, has been contacted by police searching for clues regarding the disappearance of Mary Bastholm.
West is said to have confessed to killing Mary in conversation with his son but never admitted it to police.
Detectives have recently spoken to the younger West, Detective Chief Inspector John Turner said.
“There is no evidence at this time to link Fred West with Mary’s disappearance although he did tell his son Steve West just before he died that he had murdered Mary,” he said.
Contractors arrive at cafe to start digging
Rose West’s ex-lawyer at scene in Gloucester
Rose West’s ex-lawyer, Leo Goatley is down at the scene in Gloucester city centre this morning giving interviews to news cameras outside The Clean Plate cafe.
Mr Goatley represented West, one of the most notorious women criminals in British history, from 1992 to 2004.
“I hope something is discovered that will bring closure either to the Bastholms or some other family,” he told ITV.
Mr Goatley now owns Leo Goatley MA Fine Art, a print shop in Gloucester.
How the investigation is unfolding in Gloucester
Fred West’s home, now known as the “House of Horrors”, was close to the cafe in Gloucester that is now being excavated.
Here is a map detailing the scene where police are beginning to excavate.
Locals unfazed by excavation work as cafe ‘voids’ investigated
It has been fairly quiet at the scene in the heart of Gloucester this morning as police begin excavation work at The Clean Plate cafe, where six “voids” have been discovered in the floor of the cellar, writes Chiara Giordano, who is outside the premises.
There has been a steady stream of locals walking through the city centre thoroughfare, but most appear to have grown accustomed to the large white tent stationed outside the cafe and few stop to survey the scene.
A large black transit van is parked outside the business, blocking the view to the entrance to the tent where officers arrived earlier today.
How a Trevor McDonald documentary sparked a police investigation
Police announced they would excavate the cellar of a Gloucester café after a documentary crew presented them with possible evidence that a teenager whose disappearance has been linked to the serial killer Fred West was buried beneath it.
The crew were said to be investigating a number of potential burial sites which have been connected with Fred and Rosemary West, including one associated with 15-year-old Mary Bastholm who vanished in 1968, as they film a follow-up series to the 2019 documentary Fred & Rose West: The Real Story with Sir Trevor McDonald.
The production company working on the documentary alerted police that they had found blue material buried in the cellar of the cafe and the force then began to investigate the site with “ground-penetrating radar” and sniffer dogs.
Here is more on the story:
Police will excavate the cellar of a Gloucester cafe after the documentary crew found ‘possible evidence’ of a murder