United Kingdom

Police prepare to dig up cafe where Fred West victim Mary Bastholm 'may be buried'

Police in Gloucester have begun searching beneath a cafe amid fears that the body of one of Fred West’s missing victims could have been hidden there.

Schoolgirl Mary Bastholm disappeared in 1968 aged 15 and her body has never been found.

The teenager was last seen waiting to catch a bus in order to visit her boyfriend and it has long been feared that serial killer West may have stopped to give her a lift before murdering her.

Gloucestershire Police confirmed that they were now investigating a cafe in the town following suggestions that a body may have been buried under the building.

The potential discovery was made when a film production crew were working at The Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street last Friday.

They reported how they had found possible evidence to suggest a body could be buried within the property.

Detectives visited the building, which has been linked to Mary’s disappearance in the past, and are now assessing whether to launch a major excavation of the area.

Gloucestershire Police said they expected the careful searches at the cafe to take several weeks and were providing support to Mary’s family.

Fred West, one of Britain’s most notorious serial killers committed at least twelve murders between 1967 and 1987 in Gloucestershire, the majority with his wife, Rose.

He hanged himself in prison on New Year’s Day 1995 while being held on remand, while Rose West was convicted of ten murders and sentenced to a whole life term.

The West's home, in Cromwell Street, where they committed many of the murders is half a mile from the cafe on Southgate Street.

He was said to be a regular visitor to the cafe in the late 1960s and 1970s and was even thought to have laid the concrete floor there when he was working as a builder around the time of Mary's disappearance.

Assistant Chief Constable Craig Holden said: "This could be a significant development on a case which has gained a lot of public interest over the years.

"On the basis of the information provided to us, we consider this to be new and potentially important evidence in the case of Mary Bastholm, however further detailed assessments will take place over the following few days to determine the extent of excavation needed.

"First and foremost our thoughts are with Mary’s family and we would ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.

"This news may understandably alarm those who work near to the premises, as well as those in the wider Gloucester community and beyond.

 "The Constabulary has always said any fresh evidence would be reviewed. This has happened and a focussed and proportionate investigation will now take place.

"Due to the potential scale of this there will likely be some disruption to those who work nearby, and I ask for their patience and co-operation during this time.

"We will have local officers in the area and a visible police presence at the location possibly for a number of weeks.

"We would also encourage anyone who is affected by this news to please seek support."

Football news:

Scotland coach Clarke: There were a lot of good moments during the group stage, but no points scored
England are the most boring group winners in history. Two goals were enough! And at the World Cup, the Italians once became the first even with one
Dalic - to the fans after reaching the Euro playoffs: You are our strength, and we will be your pride
Modric became the youngest and oldest goalscorer in Croatia at the Euro
Czech Republic coach Shilgava: We came out of the group and fought with England for the first place. We got what we wanted
Gareth Southgate: England wanted to win the group and continue to play at Wembley-and it succeeded
Luka Modric: When Croatia plays like this, we are dangerous for everyone