Police in Fred West probe remove objects from cafe ahead of excavation work

Police at the cafe (PA Wire)
11:52am, Tue 18 May 2021
CBAD8A00-D2B9-4E0E-ADDF-D0366C357A34 Created with sketchtool. E9A4AA46-7DC3-48B8-9CE2-D75274FB8967 Created with sketchtool. 65CCAE04-4748-4D0F-8696-A91D8EB3E7DC Created with sketchtool.

Objects have been removed from a cafe in Gloucester ahead of excavation work at the site where police have found “possible evidence” of where a suspected teenage victim of serial killer Fred West may be buried.

Forensic archaeologists have been undertaking exploratory work at the Clean Plate cafe in Southgate Street in connection with the disappearance of 15-year-old Mary Bastholm who was last seen alive in January 1968.

Gloucestershire Police had received possible evidence from a TV production company to suggest the body of the missing teenager could be buried at the location.

One of the findings presented to police was a photo taken by the production company of what appeared to be blue material buried in one area of the cellar. Mary was wearing a blue coat when she went missing.

Wooden doors were carried out of the property on Tuesday morning (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

Forensic archaeologists have confirmed that there are a number of structural anomalies within the cellar that warrant further exploration.

On Tuesday, police were seen carrying objects including a number of wooden doors out of the cafe. The force has confirmed that excavation work will not begin until at least Wednesday.

Detective Chief Inspector John Turner said on Tuesday: “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.

“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 activity at the cafe on Tuesday (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

“This will be slow and painstaking work but we have the best people on it and I can reassure our communities that all involved, from my team of investigators, our scenes of crime officers, search officers and family liaison officers to the forensic archaeologists who will continue their work, are absolutely committed to the job ahead.

“In the meantime, I continue to ask for patience and understanding from all those affected by our ongoing presence at the cafe and thank everyone who has helped us in the last 10 days.”

In a statement issued through police, the teenager’s family 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 Police is continuing to try and search for Mary and this gives us a chance to potentially put her at rest after all these years.

Mary Bastholm was last seen alive waiting at a bus stop in Gloucester and worked at the cafe in Southgate Street where Fred West was a customer (PA). (PA Wire)

“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.”

Serial killer West, who died in prison in 1995 aged 53, was previously suspected over Mary’s disappearance.

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

Mary’s disappearance in 1968 was at a time when Fred West, who often did jobs in the street where she worked as a waitress in a cafe, was abducting girls in Gloucester.

Fred West took his own life in prison while awaiting trial for murder (Gloucestershire Police/PA). (PA Media)

He was a regular at the cafe, then called the Pop-In Cafe.

West is said to have confessed to killing Mary in conversation with his son, Stephen, but never admitted it to police.

Mary’s body was not found during the 1994 excavation of the Wests’ home, now known as the “House of Horrors”, on Cromwell Street in Gloucester.

West was charged with 12 murders, but took his own life in a Birmingham prison before his trial.

Rose West was convicted of 10 murders in November 1995 and is serving life.

Sign up to our newsletter