Rosemary West’s former solicitor claims she was in complete denial about her sexually abusive father and insisted her parents would do anything for her in an upcoming documentary about the serial killer.
In Rose West: Making a Monster, which airs March 17 on Channel 5, Leo Goatley – who represented West during her 1995 trial – said the Devon-born murderer couldn’t come to terms with the reality of her horrific childhood.
Rosemary West, now 67, and her husband Frederick West were arrested in 1994 and charged with nine counts of murder. Rose was later charged with a tenth – the killing of her stepdaughter Charmaine West, eight, in 1971.
It was found the couple tortured to a sadistic degree and killed young women and girls in the basement of their Gloucester home. While Fred committed suicide before the trial in January 1995, Rose was found guilty on all counts and is currently serving a life prison sentence at HM Prison New Hall in Yorkshire.
The documentary delves into the theory West was born evil, or a product of her horrific upbringing, which saw her father sexually abuse her from a young age.
Goatley, who represented West from 1992 to 2004, says in the programme that she struggled to face reality, and had given him a ‘candy-coated’ version of her childhood denying the abuse had ever happened.
The former solicitor of British serial killer Rose West, Leo Goatley, said in an interview for the upcoming Channel 5 documentary, Rose: Making a Monster, that West, right, was in denial about her childhood, and said she had protective parents, in spite of the fact her father, Bill Letts, pictured centre, sexually abused her from a young age
As a child, pictured, West was repeatedly abused by her violent father. Experts have said it led her to develop the wrong skills and motivations in life
‘She had a reality she hasn’t been able to confront. When I asked her to describe her childhood she described a sweet, candy-coated, flossy merry time,’ Goatley said.
‘She presents home-life as these vigilant, overprotective parents who would do anything for their children and were always there, which is complete nonsense.’
He also said he believed the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) her mother Daisy Letts underwent to cure her depression and her general low mental health while pregnant with Rose affected her development.
‘I think where the mother is mentally ill, not engaging and stressed, suffering from anxiety, it’s all that stuff that impacts on the unborn child, the psychology starts in the womb,’ he said.
Rose and Frederick West tortured and murdered at least nine women between 1973 and 1987, including their own daughter, Heather West, 16
Rose’s mother Daisy Letts was treated for depression with electroconvulsive therapy while pregnant, which would certainly have affected her unborn daughter’s brain
West’s childhood was anything but normal. Her father, Bill Letts, was a service man but had to quit his military career to look after the kids at home, because his wife Daisy suffered from pre-natal depression while she carried Rose.
Daisy had ECT courses late in pregnancy, with her last session taking place the day before giving birth, and it’s believed the shock therapy had an impact on Rose’s brain development.
Letts had a sadistic streak and pedophile tendencies, and started sexually abusing Rose from a young age.
Dr Jane Carter Woodrow, criminologist and author of Rose West: The making of a Monster, explained Rose was quiet, and so Letts knew she wouldn’t speak out about the abuse. She added that Letts started grooming Rose from a very young age.
The serial killers would lure young women and teens into their cars and torture them at length in the basement of their home at 25 Cromwell Street in Gloucester. Fred killed himself in 1995 after confessing to the killings. Rose is still alive and serving a life sentence in prison
Rose and Fred West as a young couple shortly after they started dating, with Rose being only 16 and Fred 29
Fred working as a builder in the 1980s. Criminal psychologist Dr David Holmes said in the documentary that Rose and Fred entertained each other’s fetishes, which included voyeurism and exhibitionism as well as more ‘macabre’ fantasies and sadistic tendencies
Dr David Holmes, a criminal psychologist, said the abuse Rose suffered ‘limited her development’, adding: ‘She was learning the wrong skills and wrong motivations for life.
‘She was on a path that would also certainly lead to abusive relations in the future and be a instigator of abusive relations as well.’
Geoffrey Wansell, the official biographer of Fred West, said in the documentary: ‘There’s not doubt Bill Lets altered his daughter considerably’, adding: Letts was, there’s no other words for it, a monster.’
Wansell told how Letts terrorised his wife and children, having hid his paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis from Daisy.
‘It’s impossible to convey just how dysfunctional the Letts family was,’ Wansell said. ‘Letts was fierce and intimidating.’
Because she struggled academically, Rose was held back a year and enjoyed being the oldest child in her class, which gave her a sense of strength and power.
Fred West being handcuffed and led out of court after his pre-trial, shortly before his death on New Year’s Eve 1995
Rose aged six, top centre, as a child with her siblings. She started to identify with the violent ways of her father and became a bully that liked to create fear in others and used her younger brothers as ‘play things’, the documentary claims
A chilling look at the Wests’ basement, which they used as a torture chamber for their victims, which included their own children
Police searching the gardens of 25 Cromwell Street in search of more evidence following the arrest of Fred and Rose West in 1994
A man carries the remains of a body found in the Wests’ garden in Gloucester during the police investigation
‘As a child, Rose began to identify with Bill and thinking of herself as someone who is strong and can create fear in others. This resulted in her going out and bullying other children,’ Holmes said.
As she grew older, Rose garnered a reputation as a ‘nymphomaniac’ around town, and was known to have sex with older men. Dr Holmes said he believes the abuse she suffered at the hands of her own father ‘normalised’ this for her.
This led her to meet and date Fred West, then 29, when she was just 16. Fred, who Rose said ‘could charm anyone,’ saw in the teenager a conduit for his sexual fantasies, which at the time included bondage, Dr Carter Woodrow said.
The two soon moved into together, but not long after the birth of their daughter Heather, Fred was arrested for petty theft and jailed, leaving Rose with the newborn baby and his two daughters from other relations, Charmaine and Anne-Marie.
She started beating the children, especially Charmaine, who was rebellious and refused to give in to Rose’s bullying. This sadly led to Rose’s first murder; she killed Charmaine in June 1971, soon before Fred’s release from prison.
Who are Rosemary and Frederick West?
West, who has consistently claimed her innocence, and husband Fred, abducted, tortured and raped innocent women over a 20 year period at their house in Cromwell Street, Gloucestershire, where they resided from 1972 until their arrests in 1994.
The pair even killed their eldest daughter Heather in June 1987.
Fred, who confessed the killings, committed suicide in his cell while on remand at HMP Birmingham on New Year’s Day, 1995.
Other victims included 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 (Fred’s ex-wife), 27, Charmaine West (Fred’s daughter), 8, and Anne McFall, 18.
Fred is also believed to have also killed 15-year-old Mary Bastholm, although her remains have never been found.
‘I think Rose, with the stress and luggage that she was carrying and the anger that she had within her, she was capable of killing Charmaine,’ Goatley said, adding it didn’t mean she would have necessarily planned the murder.
Fred buried Charmaine’s body after his release from prison. This led to him murdering his ex-wife Rina West, who was Charmaine’s mother, and had been asking about the eight-year-old.
After Fred’s release from prison, the couple moved to 25 Cromwell Street, where Rose began working as a prostitute in one of the spare rooms, while Fred spied on her.
Dr Holmes said: ‘This gave them the chance, as it were, to partition their lives to be able to control element of Fred’s voyeurism activity with her sex activity.’
Soon after, the couple converted the basement of their house into a torture chamber, and they started cruising for young female victims.
This culminated with the murder of their own daughter Heather West, 16, in 1987, after they’d sexually abused her throughout her life.
Other victims included 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, and Anne McFall, 18.
Following Heather’s death, Fred was accused of sexually abusing his 13-year-old daughter Mae in 1992, which launched a child services investigation into the disappearance of Heather.
The police found Heather’s body and other human remains under the Wests’ house, which led to their arrest and subsequent trial.
After Fred confessed to the killings, he killed himself on New Year’s Eve 1995, and Rose faced trial alone from February until November 1995.
She was found guilty on all counts of murder and is currently serving her life sentence. She will die in prison.
Rose: Making a Monster airs on Wednesday 17 March on Channel 5 at 9pm.