No remains found at cafe linked to suspected Fred West victim, say police

Officers excavated basement as part of investigation into 1968 disappearance of Mary Bastholm

A police forensics tent is pictured outside The Clean Plate cafe in Gloucester, western England. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/  via Getty Images

A police forensics tent is pictured outside The Clean Plate cafe in Gloucester, western England. Photograph: Geoff Caddick/AFP/ via Getty Images

 

Detectives have found no human remains after completing excavation work at a cafe where it had long been rumoured the body of a victim of the serial killer Fred West may have been hidden.

Officers have investigated six “voids” in the basement floor of the Clean Plate cafe in Gloucester, England as part of an investigation into the disappearance of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm more than half a century ago.

Gloucestershire constabulary said on Thursday: “Excavation work at the Clean Plate cafe has now been completed and we can confirm no human remains or items of significance to the investigation have been found.

“Digging to access and examine six areas of interest or ‘anomalies’ in the cellar area began last Wednesday.

“The anomalies were identified by a team of expert forensic archaeologists and anthropologists ahead of the excavation work, with the experts able to determine that the remaining areas of the cellar had been undisturbed since prior to 1968, when Mary Bastholm disappeared.

“Each area was carefully examined by the forensics team with support from officers from the constabulary. The team worked each day, everything that was dug up was analysed on site and all activity was meticulously logged and photographed.

“Mary’s family have been updated and is continuing to receive support from family liaison officers. The cafe will be handed back to its owners once reparation work is completed.”

The police investigation began after a TV company working on a documentary about Mary’s disappearance found two voids in the basement. Experts drilled into one of the voids and a cadaver-detecting dog indicated there could be something in the hole. They dropped a camera down and spotted what appeared to be blue material.

When Mary went missing she was wearing a blue coat and a blue and white dress, and had a blue bag. The documentary team passed on their findings and police found four more voids.

West was previously suspected of killing Mary. Along with his wife, Rose West, he tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of women over a 20-year period.

West is said to have confessed to his son, Stephen, that he had killed Mary but did not admit it to police. The girl’s body was not found during the 1994 excavation of the Wests’ home on Cromwell Street in Gloucester.

West was charged with 12 murders, but took his own life in prison in 1995, aged 53, before his trial. Rose West was convicted of 10 murders in November 1995 and is serving a life sentence.

There are conflicting reports over whether West was a regular at the cafe, whether he did building work in the basement, or if he knew Mary.

Rumours have circulated for years about the cafe basement but at the start of the dig the senior investigating officer, DCI John Turner, said: “Fred lied to a lot of people, sent police off on wild goose chases all around the country, which has been heartbreaking over the years for lots of family members including the Bastholms. Just because Fred said he did it, it doesn’t mean to say he did.

“Fred most definitely played with investigators, he wanted to control the investigation, he enjoyed being the centre of attention and he was toying with us at times.” – Guardian News and Media