Fred West: Police to excavate cafe after 'possible evidence' body is buried there

17 May 2021, 22:11 | Updated: 18 May 2021, 06:19

Police will begin excavating the Clean Plate cafe in Gloucester
Police will begin excavating the Clean Plate cafe in Gloucester. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Excavation work will take place inside a Gloucester cafe with police finding "possible evidence" to suggest a body was found there.

Detectives have been examining if the Clean Plate cafe could be where the serial killer Fred West buried 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, who went missing in 1968 and may have been one of his victims.

Forensic archaeologists working on the building today confirmed "structural anomalies" in the cellar which require more investigation.

Officers will now excavate the site to see if human remains are there, a process which will begin on Wednesday at the earliest and is set to last several weeks.

However, Gloucestershire Constabulary has insisted no bones have been found at the site, despite reports.

Read more: Fred West: Police search cafe for remains of girl, 15, feared to be serial killer's victim

Detective Chief Inspector John Turner said: "The analysis from our experts and the material provided by the production company means there is enough evidence to justify excavation work beginning.

"I've spoken to the family and was so impressed by their quiet dignity and gratitude for all the work we've done and will be doing.

Mary Bastholm is feared to have been a victim of Fred West
Mary Bastholm is feared to have been a victim of Fred West. Picture: PA

"They understand it is possible we won't find human remains but they also know that we will do everything we can to establish if Mary is buried at this location."

Police were called to the cafe on May 7 by a production company filming a documentary, which believed evidence of her remains had been found.

This included an image of blue material in one part of the cellar, with Mary having been reported as wearing a blue coat when she went missing.

Read more: Police funding to blame for not searching cafe sooner, says Rose West's lawyer

West, who died in prison aged 53, was suspected over her disappearance.

Along with his wife Rose, who is serving a life sentence, West tortured, raped and murdered an unknown number of women over a 20-year-period.

He was charged with 12 murders but took his own life in a Birmingham jail before being put on trial. Rose was convicted of 10 murders in 1995.

Serial killer Fred West may have buried Mary Bastholm at the cafe
Serial killer Fred West may have buried Mary Bastholm at the cafe. Picture: PA

Mary's family issued a statement, which said: "Senior Investigating Officer John Turner has sat with us and explained the ongoing investigation as well as his intentions to excavate the cafe to try and find Mary.

"We are extremely happy Gloucestershire Constabulary is continuing to try and search for Mary and this gives us a chance to potentially put her at rest after all these years.

"We want to thank everyone who has wished us support through this distressing time, and we are continuing to be in close touch with the investigation team, and are being kept up to date with any new developments.

"We hope this is a chance to finally get closure for Mary and would like to continue to ask for privacy whilst the excavation is ongoing."