Girl's killer jailed, 32 years after she was murdered

13 November 2007
The Guardian
Martin Wainwright
Comic dealer told he must serve at least 30 years DNA evidence cleared wrongly jailed tax clerk

A dealer in children's comics was jailed for life yesterday for the frenzied murder of schoolgirl Lesley Molseed on Yorkshire moorland 32 years ago. Ronald Castree, 54, a father of two, was condemned by a judge for destroying a second innocent life after staying silent as a tax clerk, Stefan Kiszko, served 16 years for the killing. Castree, who was convicted by a majority verdict after 11 1/2 hours, claimed in tears from the dock that he was the victim of a second miscarriage of justice.

But a 12-day trial at Bradford crown court had heard that the odds against an error in DNA evidence which linked his semen to the child's underwear were a billion to one. He was silenced by Mr Justice Openshaw who said: "No, you have had your say; your past has now caught up with you," and ordered that he should serve a minimum of 30 years.

Detectives may question Castree about a number of other unsolved child assaults, following details in court about his attack in 1976 on a school friend of Lesley's, who kicked her way out of a derelict house. Castree was finally caught by one piece of good practice in the original, disastrous police investigation: the careful storage of forensic evidence. Stains on Lesley's knickers exonerated Stefan Kiszko at an appeal in 1992, and 12 years later provided the DNA evidence which trapped Castree.

So confident was he that his past was buried that he gave a national newspaper interview in the 1990s, surrounded by comics which were earning him pounds 50,000 a year.

By 2005, when he was DNA-swabbed after an alleged sex attack on a woman in Oldham, every trace was being compared with notorious cases. The perfect match was enough for a charge, but it also tallied with his attack on Lesley's friend, the fact that he had no alibi and lived on the same Turf Hill estate as his victim.

Lesley was abducted as she ran a Sunday errand for her mother, April Garrett. Her body was found four days after she disappeared by a van driver near Halifax. She had 11 stab wounds. Lesley's sisters Julie and Laura cheered as they left court. Garrett said: "Our quest for justice for Lesley is now over."

The last member of Stefan Kiszko's family, his aunt Anne, said: "God knows how many other lives Castree has ruined. You are not telling me he's only done one murder in 32 years. If you are capable of doing such a despicable act then you just don't stop." Kiszko developed schizophrenia in jail and thought his conviction was part of a government experiment. He died a recluse within two years of his exoneration, followed within four months by his mother Charlotte, whose campaign with the help of lawyer Campbell Malone exposed the travesty of her son's trial.

The lawyers involved went on to successful careers. The prosecutor Peter Taylor became lord chief justice and defence QC David (now Lord) Waddington became home secretary. The deputy head of the police inquiry, Detective Supterintendent Dick Holland, and a Home Office scientist Ronald Outteridge were summonsed after Kiszko's acquittal for suppressing evidence. This included tests, never shown to the original trial jury, which showed that the semen on Lelsey's underwear could never have been Kiszko's because he was infertile. Three teenage girls who claimed that Kiszko had stalked them and exposed himself to them, also admitted that they had lied "for a laugh", although unlike the trial judge Sir Hugh Park, they did not apologise to the Kiszkos. The proceedings were stayed only because the head of the inquiry, Chief Superintendent Jack Dibb, had died and a magistrate decided that too much time had passed to root out who was to blame.

Detective Chief Superintendent Max McLean of West Yorkshire police, who led the Castree inquiry, said after yesterday's sentencing: "We are very, very sorry for what happened. It was a dreadful miscarriage of justice. "I am so pleased today we have put things right. We have got the real killer. West Yorkshire police has never given up on this investigation."

Castree, who grew up in Rochdale where his father was an export clerk, may appeal. His defence blamed Lesley's killing on a convicted violent paedophile, Raymond Hewlett, who was initially a suspect after Kiszko's acquittal. Hewlett has disappeared abroad but police had a sample of his DNA which did not match the crucial evidence.

Stefan Kiszko served 16 years in jail. He developed schizophrenia and died two years after he was cleared

0 Responses to "Girl's killer jailed, 32 years after she was murdered"
Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | Flash News Converted into Blogger Template by HackTutors