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Friday, 24 August, 2001, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
The chilling voice of Fred West
25 Midland Road
West's eldest daughter was buried under this house in Gloucester
Serial killer Fred West's police interviews are set to be broadcast on Channel 5 this autumn despite uproar from police and relatives of some of the victims. BBC News Online's Chris Summers sat through the Cromwell Street trial and recalls the impact of first hearing West's voice.

When Fred West's voice drifted across the floor of Winchester Crown Court during his wife's trial in October 1995 you could have heard a pin drop.

There was frantic shorthand scribbling on the packed press benches, jurors listened attentively and those in the public gallery leaned forward to catch every word.

Delivered in a rich Herefordshire accent, it was the matter-of-factness of the words which really struck home, although the magnitude of what was said did not sink in at first.

It was already one of the most sensational trials of the 20th century.

Fred West
Fred West chatted as if he was discussing the weather
Rose West was accused of 10 murders, including those of her eldest daughter Heather, who had vanished in 1987 aged 16.

Her husband, accused of 12 murders, had hanged himself in Birmingham's Winson Green prison 10 months earlier.

He had apparently hoped that his death would save his wife. But police pressed ahead and she was later jailed for life.

Spectre over the trial

The spectre of Frederick Walter Stephen West hung over the whole trial.

Both sides admitted he was a demonic and depraved creature but his wife's barrister, Richard Ferguson QC, sought to paint a picture of a household where the wife carried on her domestic duties blissfully unaware of her husband's debauchery.

One of the excerpts played to the court surrounded the death of Heather West.

As he retold the story - which was almost certainly untrue - there was not a hint of emotion.

Psychologists and criminologists would later speculate that West was a sociopath - unable to feel normal human feelings or empathise with his victims, possibly due to a brain injury he had suffered in a motorbike accident.

In fact West, a builder, showed more interest in inanimate objects - such as cars, buildings and tools - than humans.

West claimed his wife had gone to the supermarket shopping when he got into a row with his teenage daughter, who had just left school, over her plans to leave home.

Heather West
Heather West was buried in the back garden
West said: "She said: 'If you don't let me go I'll give all the kids acid and they'll all jump off the church roof and be dead on the floor'."

He said he said he slapped her face and then grabbed her neck in a fit of temper.

"I'm strong in the hands because of the job I do...I spotted she'd gone blue. So I let go of her quick and she just started to fall backwards on to the washing machine and slide forward."

West, an uncouth man whose personal habits included munching raw onions as if they were apples, recounted in grim detail how he killed and disposed of the body of his 16-year-old daughter in the bathroom.

Then, in a voice which I do not think I will ever forget, he casually described how he hid her remains in a wheelie bin "behind the Wendy house" at the bottom of the garden.

Rose West
Rose West is serving 10 life sentences
Again he appeared oblivious to the horror of his confessions and more interested in practical details.

"Stephen (his son) made the Wendy house - part on the lawn, part on the patio. Made out of eight-by-four sheets. I put her behind the Wendy house and covered it over with that blue polythene, you know, that they use on the floors," he said.

Heather's body would later be recovered from beneath the garden, where it had been buried.

Channel 5 intends to broadcast similar excerpts from those audio tapes in a documentary, to be broadcast over three hour-long episodes, this autumn.

Geoffrey Wansell, author of the official book on the West case, An Evil Love, told BBC News 24 he had no doubt a lot of people would have a "voyeuristic" interest in hearing West's voice.

Channel 5 have kept a low profile about the programme but they say it is a serious attempt to analyse West's crimes and ask why police stopped looking for more victims.

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