The case of Fred and Rose West is one of the most notorious crimes in British history, with the details of the murders committed by the couple horrifying the nation 25 years ago.
But a new podcast will attempt to shine a light on parts of the story never before heard.
The 12-part series Unheard: The Fred & Rose West Tapes features the tapes of journalist Howard Sounes, who broke stories on the Wests – including the initial House of Horrors story after the remains of nine victims were found at 25 Cromwell Street – while working as a national newspaper journalist.
After writing a bestselling book about the case called Fred & Rose, Sounes has decided that 25 years on from the distressing discovery at the Wests home in Gloucester, these unheard tapes – which feature interviews with family members of Fred and Rose, lodgers at 25 Cromwell Street and those who managed to escape the serial killers – could give a new insight into one of the UKs most infamous crimes.
Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Sounes said: Youll hear from people you havent heard from before, and in their own voices. Im finding out, 25 years ago, how this happened by going around, talking to people, knocking on doors. At the time one of the things we didnt focus on, was that we couldnt really speak to the families [of the victims] because the police kept them away from the press.
Weve focused on Fred and Rose and the crimes, rather than the families of the dead. Now, returning to the case, Im more sympathetic than I was in my 20s. Ive spoken to some of the families involved and we get to hear how peoples lives have been changed forever by this – if your sister gets murdered by Fred and Rose West, thats a burden you carry for the rest of your life.
Rose is serving a life sentence for 10 murders and Fred – who killed himself in prison before facing trial in 1995 – is believed to have killed at least 12 young women. The victims were Heather West (their daughter), 16, Alison Chambers, 16, Shirley Robinson, 18, Juanita Mott, 18, Shirley Hubbard, 15, Theresa Siegnethaler, 21, Lucy Partington, 21, Carol Ann Cooper, 15, Lynda Gough, 19, Rena Costello (Freds ex-wife), 27, Charmaine West (Freds daughter), 8, and Anne McFall, 18, while Fred is believed to have also killed 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, although her remains have never been found.
And on Unheard, Sounes is keen to give the victims families their voices, without exaggerating the violence and depravity of the crimes.
It was such a privilege to meet them and spend time with them. You see the damage caused by the case, which is profound, he said.
The story is bizarre and profoundly shocking enough without exaggerating it. The podcast is kind of restrained and dignified really. We leave the really grisly details because I think its too much for people to listen to, but you do get the honest accounts of the people who were affected by it and involved in it.
In the first episode, Sounes speaks to Gill Brett, a former lodger at 25 Cromwell Street who rented a room at the House of Horrors when she was 16, who shares her thoughts on her then-landlord Fred and his wife Rosemary for the first time outside of court.
Speaking on Unheard, Gill, now 41, says: He was a hard worker, he had a bit of a rough and ready look about him. If you were a bit skint, hed let you off your rent until next week, “oh go on”, hed say.
We never questioned why he was to and from the van or up and down in the cellar. One of those passing jokes – he was moving something out of the van, a carpet rolled up on his shoulder, coming out of the van, going down to the cellar, [we said] “oh bloody hell Fred, its a wonder you aint got dead bodies down there, havent ya?” It was a joke.
Gill adds: I didnt know the other side of Fred.