United Kingdom

Fred West detectives 'find bones and material matching a coat' in Gloucester cafe basement dig

Detectives searching for a teenage girl who is thought to have been killed by Fred West have discovered what they believe to be bones. 

Mary Bastholm's disappearance has remained a mystery for over five decades, although there has been speculation over the years since Fred West's murders were revealed in 1994 that she could have been one of his victims. 

The then 15-year-old girl was last seen in 1968, but police have been combing through The Clean Plate Café in Gloucester after an ITV film crew alerted them to possible evidence of a body.

Officers have now discovered dark blue material that could be a match for the coat Mary was wearing when she vanished, along with the suspected bones. 

Detectives are expected to provide an update on the search on Tuesday morning.

Serial killers Fred and Rosemary West are long believed to have played a part in the death of Mary Bastholm, 15, (right) who vanished aged 15. The locket she wore as a bridesmaid at her brother's wedding (pictured right) was found in their house

Drone pictures directly above the Clean Plate Cafe on Southgate Street show that police have put up forensic tents at the front and rear of the property

The scene in Gloucester where police continue to investigate inside the basement of the Clean Plate cafe

A source said told The Sun: 'Camera images clearly show material which matches the navy blue coat Mary was wearing when she was abducted.

'In addition, there are images of what look very much like human bones.

'Great care is being taken to sift through the surface to preserve any potential evidence.'

Specialist digging teams supported by an archaeologist are working in the basement and garden of the The Clean Plate Café in Southgate Street, where West was a regular and may even have laid the concrete floor weeks before Mary vanished.

Forensic teams have removed the fireplace in the cellar of the café, which was a five minute walk from West's home at 25 Cromwell Street, dubbed the infamous 'House of Horrors' where many of the victims were killed and buried.

Mary Bastholm vanished aged 15 from a bus stop on Bristol Road in Gloucester, on January 6, 1968. 

The teen had been waiting to catch a bus to meet her boyfriend in Hardwicke, Stroud, after a shift at a nearby Pop-In café in Southgate Street.

The 15-year-old's body has never been found but it is believed that Miss Bastholm was murdered by Fred West, after it was reported he had admitted the murder while on remand in prison before he killed himself in January 1995.

Fred (shown above) working as a builder, and he may have laid the floor that is now being dug up as part of a forensic investigation at the Gloucester eaterie

Officers dismantled the cellar's fireplace and cleared the basement of rubbish, picture frames and menus with an archaeologist also brought in to help with the search for human remains

Both of Mary's parents, Doreen and Christian Bastholm, died before they could learn the truth behind what may have happened to their missing daughter.

In 1970 Mrs Bastholm told ATV: 'Well, she came home about half past six, and had her tea, and sat in this corner, where I'm sitting and enjoyed the Bernie Winter show.

'She went out about between 10 and quarter past seven with a carrier bag with a Monopoly set in to catch the 25 past bus at the end of Tuffley Avenue.

'And that was the last we saw of her.' 

Rose West's former solicitor Leo Goatley, who represented her for 12 years including at her 1995 trial for murdering ten girls and young women, and who also visited her in prison on dozens of occasions, alleged that Rose could have been involved in the disappearance in his 2019 book.

Mr Goatley alleges that Rose, who was 14, already knew Fred by then and this could have been her first homicide experience.

Mr Goatley writes: 'When Fred was remanded in custody at Winson Green, he told his son Stephen that he had killed Mary Bastholm.

'She [Rose] was an accomplice, albeit a junior accomplice, who may not have been present at the time of dismemberment, but in all probability was present at the time of death. She knew he was a killer.'

Schoolgirl Mary Bastholm served tea, cake and sandwiches in the Gloucester eaterie then called 'The Pop In' and now called 'The Clean Plate'

A tent was placed outside 'The Clean Plate' cafe in Gloucester on May 11, where specialist teams and an archaeologist are scanning the basement for Fred West's missing victim 

Mr Goatley writes that there is a consensus among experts that 'it is more than likely that there were other unknown victims of the Wests' reign of terror'.

Fred West had claimed there were 20 more victims, but did not give precise details of the location of other remains, other than to talk vaguely about a 'farm' where he would take his captives.

Mr Goatley writes: 'It is my belief that when Fred talked of other victims who were buried at a 'farm' near Gloucester, this was his cryptic way of intimating that victims who were killed at Cromwell Street were then dismembered, put in sacks and bin liner bags, thrown on the back of a dustcart and unwittingly taken to Hempsted Tip [on the edge of the city]. To the Wests, Hempsted Tip was a farm.'

Pleading for Rose to break her silence in 2014, Peter Bastholm, Mary's brother told Sky News: 'I think Rose knows exactly what happened to Mary because I assume she and Fred discussed it between themselves. Whether she will ever disclose it, I really don't know.

'It would be a final act to find Mary's body and lay it to rest after all these years, after all we have gone through.' 

Fred West, who admitted killing 12 victims and may have murdered 20 more, was also said to have laid the concrete floor there just weeks before she disappeared 53 years ago

He told Sky News in 2014 that his wife had identified a silver locket on a chain that had been found at the West's Cromwell Street House of Horrors as Mary's which she had worn to their wedding as a bridesmaid.

Mr Bastholm said: 'We had a photo of [the locket] and police took it away to examine, but because it was a black and white picture they said they could not tell if the locket was silver or gold, so nothing came of it. But it was exactly like the one found at Cromwell Street.'

In 2012, on the 44th anniversary of the disappearance of Mary, a petition was set up calling for Gloucestershire Police to search Mary's remains at a cafe on Southgate Street. 

Chris Roberts, who set up the petition and knew Mary, believes West had installed a concrete floor as part of a basement toilet conversion at the cafe around the time of Mary's disappearance.

His petition to search the building was rejected by Gloucester police in 2012, who said there was no new evidence to investigate. 

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