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THE DEVIL WORSHIPPERS; All Wests' victims had fingers and toes chopped off.

Byline: CAROLINE WHEELER

SERIAL killers Fred and Rose West shocked the world with an horrific murder spree that claimed at least 12 lives.

But as the 10th anniversary of the House of Horrors murders approaches, evidence has emerged of a sinister new twist to their crimes -with an expert's claims that they were devil-worshippers whose victims were human sacrifices.

Renowned Irish author Jim Cairns says new evidence shows the pair may have been part of a Midland black magic ring. Mr Cairns has previously exposed a satanic sect operating in Kilkennywhich he claimed had been responsible for the disappearance of a number of young people.

He also wrote the book Disappeared Off The Face Of The Earth about his firsthand experiences of witches' covens in Northern Ireland.

Now he is writing a book about the Wests, which will claim that they may have been involved in ritual killings at Gloucester's Cromwell Street -along with others who have never been brought to trial.

Mr Cairns revealed that ALL the West's victims had finger or toe bones missing - a common trait in occult killings known as 'the magic hand'.

And he revealed that the drinking counter the couple had built in their infamous House of Horror home was named the Black Magic Bar.

Last night Mr Cairns elaborated on the latest theory to surface as to why the Wests brutally murdered at least 12 young women.

The former electrician, who also runs a missing persons website in Ireland, said: 'Myself and others believe there is a definite occult or satanic connection to the West murders.

'The murders reek of human sacrifice with powerful connections.

'The Wests have got all the essential ingredients of ritual killers -their indifference to the suffering of their victims, the murder of their own children and the burying of the bodies under their own house.

'The fact that all of the victims had fingers and toes missing, and that the bar they built to entertain Rose West's clients was called the Black Magic Bar, just underlines the point.'

At first it was thought that the name of the bar was a reference to prostitute Rose's preference for having sex with black men.

But Mr Cairns thinks it refers to something more sinister.

'It can't be a coincidence,' he said. 'And the Wests wouldn't be the first serial killers to have satanic connections.

'I have no doubt that the likes of Jack the Ripper and Myra Hindley were involved in something similar. Their killing patterns and behaviour reek of the occult, too.'

In 2002 author Ivor Edwards published a book titled Jack the Ripper's Black Magic Rituals, which explored the notorious killer's satanic links.

Mr Cairns said he plans to write a similar book about the Wests and claims they may even have been supplying a Gloucestershire coven with human sacrifices.

He believes Fred committed suicide in 1995 after being threatened by highranking members of the coven who feared exposure.

His brother, whowas himself suspected of being involved in the murders, also later killed himself. It is also alleged that Fred told one journalist he was covering for others.

Mr Cairns said: 'It can hardly be coincidence that Fred and his brother both committed suicide before they had their day in open court and a chance to tell their stories.

'My belief is that Fred was covering up for people in the coven who did not want their story to come to light.

'In my experience, members of satanic cults often come from the professional classes, who would do anything to protect their reputation.'

Journalist Geoffrey Wansell wrote Fred West's official biography, An Evil Love, in 1996.

It included one passage which alluded to Rose's fascination with black magic and the occult -an interest shared by one of her victims, nanny Lynda Gough.

The section reads: 'After her arrest the police suggested to Rosemary West that she had become fascinated by Lynda Gough's interest in black magic and satanism, which led them to want to torture and humiliate their victims as part of a ritual in which other people who shared their views participated.' A previous Government-backed report found evidence of children being secretly reared for sacrifice by satanists in 21st century Britain.

In 2000, psychotherapist Valerie Sinason was funded by the Department of Health to study adult survivors of alleged organised ritual abuse.

She said she was 'completely convinced' that satanic abuse existed and that children, whose births were not officially registered, were being reared for abuse and sacrifice.

Mrs Sinason, who edited a clinical textbook on satanist abuse after the controversies in Rochdale, the Orkneys andNottingham in the early 1990s,has claimed to have evidence of at least 100 ritual murders.

Dr Peter Maxwell-Stuart, an academic at St Andrews University in Scotland, is a specialist historian in the study of medieval witchcraft and was sceptical about the new West claims.

But he did confirm that the idea of the 'magic hand' was grounded in 16th century witchcraft history.

'Most of the talk about modern witchcraft and the occult is a load of twaddle,' he said.

'I think it unlikely that Fred West was a member of a coven because he doesn't fit the bill of the modern coven member, who are usually environmentalists.

'The magic hand does have some foundation in witchcraft history, however. It dates back to the 16th century but it refers to the cutting off of an entire hand - not just fingers and toes.

'But there are also reports of witches grinding down the fingers and toes or sacrifices to make powder to use for their spells or potions.

'These are things linked to the 16th and 17th century rather than modern day witchcraft and magic.'

In 1943 three young boys discovered the body of a murdered man in Hagley Wood, Worcestershire, who had several fingers missing. His digits were discovered buried some yards away from his body, and it was believed to be a devil worship killing.

TWELVE MURDERS

Anne McFall, 18, was a nursery nurse for West and his first wife, Catherine.

Catherine Costello, 25, was Fred West's first wife.

Charmaine West, eight, was Fred West's first child.

Lynda Carole Gough, 19, worked in a shop near Cromwell Street.

Carole Ann Cooper, 15, went missing from a children's home in Worcester.

Lucy Katherine Partington, a 21 year-old student, was visiting friends in Cheltenham when she vanished.

Therese Siegenthaler, a 21 year-old student, left her home in London for a weekend break in Ireland but never returned.

Shirley Hubbard, 15, worked at Debenhams in Worcester.

Juanita Mott, 18, lived in Newent, 10 miles from the House of Horror.

Shirley Ann Robinson, 18, from Leicester-shire was a Cromwell Street lodger.

Alison Jane Chambers, 16, worked for a Gloucester firm of solicitors.

Heather West, 16, was the first child of Fred West and his second wife Rosemary.

THE HOUSE OF HORROR

THE West murders were discovered in March 1994 when police started excavations in the family's garden.

Three bodies were discovered but another six women were found buried beneath the house.

The body of Fred West's own eight year-old daughter Charmaine -from a previous relationship -was later found in a coal cellar at a previous home in Midland Road, Gloucester.

A further two bodies were discovered in a field near the childhood home of the sex-crazed builder in Much Marcle, Herefordshire.

Fred West, 52 at the time of his arrest, eventually admitted 12 murders to police although it is believed that he and Rosemary may have been responsible for another nine deaths.

But the evil monster never faced trial. On New Year's Day 1995, he took his own life by hanging himself in his cell at Winson Green Prison. Rose West, 50, is currently serving a life sentence at Durham jail for 10 of the murders.

CAPTION(S):

EVIL: Fred and Rosemary West had a drinking counter they called the Black Magic Bar; GRIM SEARCH: digging up the garden in Cromwell Street and (below) author Jim Cairns; VICTIM: daughter Heather; VICTIM: first wife Catherine Costello; VICTIM: lodger Shirley Robinson
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 22, 2004
Words:1344
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