Molseed murder: accused in court

15 November 2006
Halifax Evening Courier
Elaine Jinks

The man accused of murdering schoolgirl Lesley Molseed 31 years ago has appeared before a judge at Bradford Crown Court. Ronald Castree, 53, who was flanked by two security guards spoke only once to confirm his name and remained impassive throughout the 15 minute hearing. The market trader of Brandon Crescent, Shaw, Oldham, was arrested at his home on November 3 and charged with Lesley's murder three days later as new evidence came to light in the historic case.

Yesterday, the Recorder of Bradford, Judge Stephen Gullick, set a plea and case management hearing for the week commencing March 12 next year. A provisional trial, expected to last for up to six weeks, was fixed for June 5.

Jonathan Rose, a Leeds barrister and author of the 1998 book Innocents, which focused on Lesley's murder, represented Castree. Judge Gullick granted both Mr Rose and Malcolm Taylor, prosecuting, applications to instruct Queen's Counsel in the case. Mr Rose made no application for bail and the judge remanded Castree, a married father-of-three, in custody to Armley Prison, Leeds.

Judge Gullick told him: "The prosecution must serve papers on your solicitors by January 9 and you will have to respond by January 23. "A provisional trial date has been fixed for June 5, 2007 and pending any further applications or hearings, you are remanded in custody."

The proceedings were watched by a packed public gallery including Lesley's family and police officers involved in the investigation.

Lesley was 11 when she disappeared after leaving her home in Delamere Road, Rochdale, to run an errand on October 5, 1975. Her body was discovered three days later on moorland known as Windy Hill above the A672 Oldham-Halifax road in Ripponden. She had been stabbed 12 times and sexually assaulted.

Following a major police investigation, in which nearly 5,000 statements were taken and more than 12,000 people spoken to within the first three months, Stefan Kiszko, a tax clerk from Rochdale, was convicted of her murder. But Mr Kiszko was the victim of one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British legal history. He spent 16 years in prison before being released in 1992 following an appeal. He died of a heart attack a year later, aged 44, and his mother, Charlotte, who had campaigned tirelessly to prove his innocence, died six months after her son.

The investigation was reopened in 2001 and featured on BBC's Crimewatch in February 2003 after officers made a breakthrough in DNA techniques. In all, 250 calls were received as a result of the programme.

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