| 8.9°C Dublin

Couple who held Jaycee captive for 18 years confess all

A couple charged with kidnapping Jaycee Dugard at the age of 11 and holding her captive for 18 years in California have made full confessions, a defence lawyer said.

The revelation came as prosecutors and defence lawyers opened negotiations on a possible plea deal that would avert the need for a trial.

Stephen Tapson, who represents defendant Nancy Garrido, said she and her husband Phillip were reinterviewed by detectives during the past month and acknowledged snatching Ms Dugard.

"Essentially they confessed to kidnapping and told where all the bodies are buried," he said, characterising the disclosures as "full confessions".

Nancy Garrido (55) denies 18 felony counts that include false imprisonment, rape and child pornography. Her husband had been due to enter a plea yesterday, but has asked to postpone the arraignment until March 17.

His lawyer would not confirm or deny Mr Tapson's account.

Mr Tapson said the defendants had not worked out a plea deal, but prosecutors have proposed sentencing Phillip Garrido to 440 years in prison and his wife to more than 241 years.

The lawyer said Ms Dugard was present during one of Nancy Garrido's interviews, apparently the first time the women had been face-to-face since the couple were arrested in 2009.

Concealed

Officers believe Ms Dugard was kept in a concealed area behind Garrido's house in Antioch, California, near San Francisco, for 18 years.

In August 2009 she appeared with Phillip Garrido at his parole officer's office. Accompanying them at the time were the two daughters Ms Dugard bore since she disappeared, who were 12 and 15 when they and their mother were discovered.

Suspicion about the group's behaviour led to an investigation that identified the woman with Garrido as the long-missing Jaycee Dugard.

Garrido, who had a long history of abuse towards women, received a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation in 1976 in which he was diagnosed as a "sexual deviant and chronic drug abuser".

hnews@herald.ie