THE brother of the British mass killer Fred West was found dead in the garage of his home last night hours before the end of his trial on rape charges.
A retired refuse collector, Mr John West (54) is believed to have committed suicide on the eve of the jury retiring to consider its verdicts at Bristol Crown Court.
His body was found in the garage of his semi detached house in Curlew road, Abbeymead, Gloucester, shortly before 9 p.m.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances.
They did not reveal the cause of death or confirm that the body was that of Mr John West.
However, a neighbour, Ms Diane Phelps, said: "Yes it's true, it is him. But I don't want to say many more.
Another neighbour, Ms Ann O'Reilly, said: "I saw a police car at his house at about 9 p.m. but I didn't realise why it was there."
"I knew John West as a very nice reliable friendly neighbour who was there when we needed him."
Mr John West had been on trial at Bristol Crown Court since Tuesday accused of raping his niece, Ms Anne Marie Davis - Fred West's daughter - and another girl.
Anne Marie had told the jury she was raped around 300 times by Mr West when she was a girl.
The charges against Mr West date back to the period between January 1975 and January.
Fred West's biographer, Geoffrey Wansell, who was controversially given access to the mass murderer's private papers to prepare his book An Evil Love, said Mr John West's death was "absolutely tragic".
He told independent Radio News: "No matter what terrible things may have gone on within the West family, this is a simply dreadful reflection on the law.
"I cannot put into words how upset I feel for his family and all the people be cared for. It is desperate."
Asked how the West family, whom he had interviewed while preparing his book, would react, Mr Wansell said: "I can't believe they won't be desperately - how could they possibly be anything but - traumatised. It is unbelievable."
If John West did commit suicide, it was probably in despair at the prospect of jail, said Mr Wansall.
"He was still in the grip of the British justice system."