REVEALED: How journalists 'broke into' Fred and Rose West's House of Horrors after police left scene
JOURNALISTS "broke into" Fred and Rose West's home to get the first footage inside their "House of Horrors" not long after police forensic investigators left the scene, it has been revealed.
A TV cameraman and colleague entered 25 Cromwell Street through the loft after paying £300 cash to a "local" who let them into the neighbouring house, a new book says.
The revelation is made in the book by Martin Brunt, who has been Crime Correspondent at Sky News for more than 30 years since it launched in 1989.
He tells how while covering the unfolding story of the couple's gruesome killing spree in 1994, he sent a cameraman and another colleague into the home after the opportunity arose through the "scallywag" named only as Jim.
The Wests tied up, tortured, raped, murdered and buried at least 12 female victims, including their own teenage daughter Heather, with much of the horror taking place inside the rundown Edwardian semi-detached townhouse (above SWNS) which has since been demolished, where Rose also acted as a local prostitute.
Their murders went undetected for years until police began investigating Heather's disappearance before finding her body and several others buried there after arresting the pair in February 1994.
In January 1995 Fred, 53, hung himself in prison awaiting trial.
Rose, now 69, was jailed for life after being found guilty of ten murders that November.
Mr Brunt wrote: "It still gives my colleague the chills when he thinks about what I asked him to do, but that hasn’t stopped him regaling his friends with the story of the night I suggested he break into the House of Horrors (below SWNS).
"The scoop cost us £300. Not a fine, but the fee for the scallywag who found a way to get my cameraman in.
"I say broke in, but it wasn’t quite like that, and I don’t suppose we would have done it if it had involved any criminality. But the opportunity to be the first journalists inside 25 Cromwell Street was too good to pass up, especially since the police had by then finished their forensic work and all the bodies had gone."
The cameraman, who asked to remain anonymous, added: "I didn’t see if he had a key or if it was unlocked, but he certainly didn’t force it.
"We had torches and I had the camera light and we climbed the stairs to the top landing and then hauled ourselves up through the hatch into the attic.
"It was a big space and there was no wall or anything to stop us getting into the attic of No. 25. We just walked across... we opened another hatch and dropped down on to the landing and suddenly we were inside the House of Horrors. It was surreal, beyond belief really, but we knew we had to be quick, so I just got on with the filming, shooting each room."
Mr Brunt added: "His 23-minute video of inside the Wests’ home was every bit as macabre and compelling as I thought it would be and £300 well spent, when we considered that no one other than the police, forensics teams and the pathologist had been inside the building since the couple’s arrest."
Inside the chilling house they found a photographic mural of impossibly blue seas and children's drawings and paintings that contrasted with the terrors that took place.
Mr Brunt added: "(He) kept rolling from room to room, his harsh light creating shadows that added to the eeriness. On a wall on the first floor was a photographic mural of impossibly blue seas and a glorious sunny coastline scattered with palms and exotic bird-of-paradise flowers. It was a tantalising glimpse of a better life, far away from the miserable existence of the occupants.
"The stairwell door to the ground floor was covered in another blown-up photograph, this one of a beautiful, scantily-dressed and barefoot young woman with a provocative pose and an enticing smile. It was as if she was beckoning visitors towards the next room, where Rose West entertained her male clients and Fred watched through a peephole."
The cameraman also filmed in the cellar where police found five bodies and children's drawings and paintings contrasted with the terrors that took place.
Mr Brunt wrote: "There were five patches on the concrete floor where they had dug up the remains. ‘It was certainly creepy,’ said my cameraman with some understatement, ‘especially when you thought of what the victims had gone through. I shot it all very quickly because Jim didn’t want to hang around and get caught.’"
Several people from Gloucester's underbelly also admitted to Brunt to having sex with Fred or Rose West (below).
Brunt told how while covering the couple's gruesome killing spree in 1994, he was inundated by locals willing to speak of sordid encounters with them.
Mr Brunt wrote: "The neighbourhood around Cromwell Street was home to many poor, sad individuals who had drifted to its bedsit land over the years.
"Some were alcoholics, some drug dependent, some both and they all may have been down on their luck, but when the world’s media beat a path to their doorsteps a few rose to the occasion.
"One young man, let’s call him Jim, introduced me to a dozen people who claimed to have known the Wests and had sexual relations with one or both.
"Normally a reporter has to sift through such claims to identify who’s trying to con you for money or attention, but it eventually became clear that a lot of them were telling the truth, because Fred and Rose were sex maniacs."
Mr Brunt, who began his career on Fleet Street, also tells the full story of Brenda Leyland, 63, (above - Sky) a woman who took her own life after one of his news reports exposed her as an anonymous online troll against the parents of Madeleine McCann who went missing from Portugal in May 2007.
The mum-of-two, who had mental health problems, was found dead in a hotel room four days after he was filmed interviewing her outside her home after she was identified as the person behind the anonymous @sweepyface account which posted about 400 comments about Gerry and Kate McCann over ten months, including claims of neglect and a cover-up.
Brunt interviewed her on September 30 2014 with the report going out on October 2.
He wrote: "Before I departed, I said I hoped I hadn’t ruined her day. She replied, seemingly jokingly, that I had ruined her life."
He spoke with her on the phone before the broadcast and she said "I have thought about ending it all, but I’m feeling better."
Two days after the broadcast she was found dead in a hotel room after killing herself.
Brunt said: "I was and am devastated by her death... the enormity of what happened will always be with me. I wished I had
never done the story. No report is worth anyone’s death, obviously. In the most awful way, it illustrated the potential impact of journalists’ work and the responsibilities to truth and fairness that we all carry.
In the following weeks, I was attacked on social media, threatened with violence, accused of murder and watched a growing Facebook campaign to get me fired."
Other tales concerning well-known crimes regaled in the book include how a Spanish chief of police in Spain left Brunt alone with a file on fugitive killer Kenneth Noye after he was arrested over the M25 road rage murder in Spain.
Brunt photographed the documents, including Noye's now notorious fake passport (above - Sky) he travelled on, after the police chief made it obvious he was leaving him alone with the documents in his office.
Brunt also claims DCI Hamish Campbell, who led the Jill Dando (below - BBC) murder probe, admitted within two weeks to having no idea who killed her after sharing his diary with the reporter as the investigation unfolded.
Over the months that unfolded crime reporters on the case branded his team the Desperate Dando squad.
Brunt, who claims the case is unlikely to ever be solved, interviewed the detective again for the book who admitted he "never really considered the Serbian, Russian or gangland scenarios" around the Crime Watch presenter's death and "maybe that was wrong, but none of my senior colleagues did either, nor did the intelligence."
During his career, Brunt corresponded with a number of criminals in prison, including building a relationship with Hatton Garden burglar Danny Jones.
The book includes multiple letters between the pair as Jones tried to get police to let him out so he could show where he buried part of his share of the loot.
Brunt also details why he believes Britain's longest serving prisoner, Charles Bronson should be released detailing several letters he has also had from him over the years.
Bronson had his latest bid for parole rejected earlier this month.
The same cannot be said of his relationship with Patrick Adams of the notorious Adams crime gang, who singled Brunt out for a rant during a German extradition hearing saying "that man is the reason I won't get a fair trial in the UK and he has ruined my kid's lives."
There is a fascinating chapter on a former disgraced Met detective who became a tipster to the tabloids by paying serving cops for tips, which acts as an insight into pre-Levenson journalism.
The now late John Ross pulled in scoops including Paula Yates' affair with Michael Hutchence, the death of the Queen Mother and the arrest of Rebecca Wade for allegedly assaulting Ross Kemp.
Other amusing anecdotes include how in 1984 he was able to drive right up to the back door of Paul McCartney's home and interview him in his garden about a foiled kidnap plot of his wife Linda.
McCartney was wearing PJs, a dressing gown and gold crested black velvet slippers at the time and although clearly annoyed by the press entertained him at his doorstep with no sign of any security..
He also confronted Max Bygraves about having a secret love child only for his editor to pull the plug on the scoop after the entertainer convinced him it would badly affect his wife and family.
Two weeks later the News of The World ran the scoop instead.
Turning to more recent events, Brunt's book includes a chapter on the current state of the Met Police post killer cop Wayne Couzens and serial rapist David Carrick under new Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley.
It detail's Brunt's view that Mr Rowley may not be as press friendly as has been portrayed due to how he described them in a novel he wrote.
He also looks at the search for Nicola Bulley and the issues of media intrusion and press getting close to the families of missing people after a public attack on Sky News by her family.
No One Got Cracked Over the Head for No Reason - Dispatches from a crime reporter
by Martin Brunt published by Biteback price £20 hardback