Brother of Moors Murders victim dies in New Year fire

Ian Herbert,North
Wednesday 02 January 2002 01:00

The brother of the Moors Murders victim Lesley Ann Downey and his seven-year-old daughter have been killed in a house fire.

Tommy West, 45, whose sister was 10 when she was murdered by Myra Hindley and Ian Brady 38 years ago, died with his daughter, Kimberley, while house-sitting for his stepfather in the Manchester suburb of Fallowfield.

Flames swept through the two-storey semi-detached home at 5am on Monday. Two other people, a woman aged 40 and a nine-year-old boy – believed to be Mr West's wife, Lesley, and son, Stuart – were slightly injured and taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary for treatment.

The fire heaped more tragedy on Alan West, 67, the stepfather of Tommy West, who was in hospital for a hip operation. His wife, Ann West, died of liver cancer two years ago, aged 67, after devoting half of her life to keeping her daughter's murderers behind bars. Mrs West sought to further her aim towards the end of her life by asking for photographs of Lesley Ann bound and gagged on a bed to be shown in public.

Tommy West, who took his stepfather's surname, supported her campaign, although the family faced opposition. Ten years ago they moved Lesley Ann's grave after it was desecrated. Mrs West was buried at the same secret plot.

Winnie Johnson, a family friend whose son, Keith Bennett, was also a Moors victim, said yesterday: "It's hard to believe so much tragedy can strike one family."

Two firefighters were injured in the fire, which started on the ground floor. Albert Snaithe, a neighbour, said a few flames were visible around a window on the ground floor when he first opened his curtains. "Then, as we looked out, the whole place just erupted," the retired machine worker said. "It was the worst fire I've seen since the Blitz. It was like something from a television show – just awful."

Bouquets of purple flowers had been left outside the gutted house yesterday morning as forensic scientists investigated.

A family celebration is understood to have been held at the house the night before.

A middle-aged woman from nearby Ladybarn who was arrested on Monday was being questioned.

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