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Rosemary West: currently held in Durham jail

Life Means Life For Murderer West

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, has decided that the mass murderer Rosemary West, should spend the rest of her life in prison.

She was given ten life sentences at Winchester Crown Court in November 1995 for killing ten young women and children. Among them was her own her daughter, Heather, and her step-daughter, Charmaine. Her husband, Fred West, was also charged with the murders but committed suicide in prison.

At the time of Rosemary West's trial, the judge, Mr. Justice Mantell, told her, "If attention is paid to what I think, you will never be released".
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As with all murder cases, the Home Secretary, Jack Straw has had to set a tariff. This is the amount of time thought necessary for contribution and deterrence. In coming to his decision, Mr. Straw took the advice of the trial judge and the Lord Chief Justice.

A Home Office spokeswoman said Mrs West can make representations about the tariff at any time. She continues to maintain her innocence even though an appeal against her conviction failed last year.

The BBC's Legal Affairs Correspondent, Joshua Rozenberg, explains the significance of the Home Secretary's decision on BBC TV
Dur: 1'53"

Without Mr Straw's decision, Rosemary West could possibly have been entitled to release on licence after a minimum of 15 years in jail. The decision comes as the Moors murderer, Myra Hindley, challenges the decision that her life sentence must mean life.

Myra Hindley is still seeking her release

Mrs West's solicitor, Leo Goatley, said Mr Straw's move was not necessarily the end of the road for his client. In an interview on the BBC, he said that he feared the Home Secretary's decision might be prejudicial to his client's case in view of an application being made on West's behalf to the European Court of Human Rights and a planned application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

"I would hope that in the near future there will be a large amount of paperwork arriving on the Home Secretary's desk from the European Commission for observations in relation to that application," said Mr Goatley.

"If he has already said that Rosemary West is never coming out, in the review of the tariff, it could prejudice or be seen to be prejudicing his determination of that," he added. "It seems, and it is, a political policy statement and it has been publicised."

However, the West's eldest son, Stephen, said he welcomed Mr Straw's decision as his mother had never shown any remorse.

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