Rose West Sentenced
The 22nd of November 1995 AD
Some crimes go beyond our comprehension. Such was the case with Rose West and her husband Fred. He killed at least 12 people, but escaped trial by hanging himself while on remand. Rose was found guilty of 10 murders, including that of her own 16-year-old daughter Heather in June 1987; and her eight-year-old stepdaughter Charmaine in 1971.
What was most difficult to understand was how the couple evaded justice for so long: they were far from criminal geniuses – Fred West had served time for petty theft and been found to have molested his own teenage sister when he was 20; and the couple were found guilty of indecent assault in 1973. The whole affair was perhaps that most clichéd of conclusions a sad indictment on our society: Rose had been abused by her father, incest that continued with Fred West’s collusion long after the couple married; Fred claimed to have been abused by his own father and mother. But most shocking of all was their ability to lure or kidnap young girls in and around Gloucester , and then sexually abuse, torture and murder them at their Cromwell Street home without being detected, the disappearances barely noted in the wider world.
The police eventually investigated the disappearance of Heather West, last seen in 1987. Spurred by Fred’s frequent threat reported by their children that he would bury them under the patio like Heather if they misbehaved the police excavated first the garden of 25 Cromwell Street, then the ground beneath the house itself. They had expected to find one body; in the end they recovered nine there; another was discovered at their previous home; and two more buried in fields in Herefordshire . It is thought Fred West may have killed far more – at one point he confessed, perhaps bragging, to 30 murders.
Rose West was convicted of 10 murders, and sentenced to life in prison, with the judge’s recommendation that she never be released, though recent rulings make it theoretically possible she could be free in 2019.
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