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Friday, 27 July, 2001, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Ex-prison officer awaits Rose West ruling
Rosemary West
Rosemary West: "Horrendous crimes"
Judgement has been reserved until October in the case of an ex-prison officer who is suing the Home Office over claims she was "encouraged to befriend" mass murderer Rosemary West.

Lynn Armstrong claims she was so traumatised by exposure to the killer while on suicide watch that it left her under the illusion West was innocent.

Mrs Armstrong, from Dorset, first spent time with West at London's Holloway Prison and moved with her to Winchester Prison when she stood trial in 1995.

Her counsel, Andrew Bulhan, told the High Court in London she spent more time with West than any other officer.

25 Cromwell Street, Gloucester
25 Cromwell Street: "House of Horrors"
It was partly the shock of West's conviction for "horrendous crimes" that drove Mrs Armstrong, of West Down, Ferndown, into depression and a dramatic personality change, he said.

She was transformed from an ambitious and highly motivated woman officer into "a grumpy, argumentative, belligerent and, I'm afraid, disillusioned prison officer until she was medically retired," said Mr Bulhan.

He said it was at the forefront of Mrs Armstrong's case against the Home Office that she had been "encouraged to befriend" West by several prison governors in order to stop her committing suicide.

Fred West took his own life before he could stand trial.

Mrs Armstrong's superiors had failed to protect her against the risk of psychiatric injury associated with prolonged exposure to one of the worst mass killers Britain has ever produced, the court was told.

The Home Office denied liability.

See also:

23 Jul 01 | UK
Ex-Rose West officer sues
21 Oct 00 | UK
West launches murder appeal
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