Justice ..32 yrs late

13 November 2007
Paul Byrne and Patrick Mulchrone
EXCLUSIVE Child sex fiend who murdered Lesley gets life in jail

Child sex killer Ron Castree who let an innocent man serve 16 years for his crime was told yesterday he would probably die in jail. The kinky comic book dealer was finally convicted of stabbing to death Lesley Molseed, 11, 32 years after he dumped her body on moorland. Lesley's family was jubilant. Mum April Garrett said: "Our long quest for justice for her is now over."

Castree also abducted a girl of nine and assaulted a boy of seven. Yesterday as the pervert began a minimum 30-year sentence his male victim, now a married dad of two, told for the first time of his harrowing ordeal. He said: "For 30 years I thought I'd been grabbed by a paedophile. Now it turns out he was a killer."

Jailing Castree, 54, judge Mr Justice Openshaw said he would probably spend the rest of his life behind bars for his "truly dreadful crime". He said: "You kept up the pretence for 32 years. Now your past has caught up with you." Ordered to the cells balding Castree, convicted on compelling DNA evidence, whined tearfully: "My Lord..." But he was cut off with the words: "No. You've had your say."

Outside Bradford crown court, Ann Kiszko - aunt of Stefan Kiszko who was freed in 1992 after his conviction for Lesley's murder was quashed - said: "I hope he rots in hell."

Castree's first wife Beverley, 52, who gave evidence against him, said: "He's always been a monster and always will be." Beverley wed womanising Castree in 1973.

He murdered Lesley while his wife was in hospital 16 days after giving birth. The mum of three said: "He just carried on as normal. He was cruel with his mouth and his fist. "He liked people to be under the thumb. He wanted a cover-up and I was it. I didn't realise how much danger we were in."

Seen by neighbours as a hard-working family man, sinister Castree hid a perverted desire for child sex. In October 1975 he plucked 4ft Lesley from the streets of Rochdale as she went to buy bread for her mother. He sexually assaulted her and stabbed her 12 times.

Stefan, then 23, was arrested and confessed without a solicitor present. An appeal later proved he was impotent and could not have been responsible for sperm found on Lesley's clothing. Castree was never in the frame for the killing. At the time he had no previous convictions and was not a suspect.

But, days before confused Stefan stood trial, Castree was again unable to control his twisted urges. He pounced on a girl in Stefan's street, enticed her into his car, drove to a derelict house and assaulted her. She is now 41. Her sister exclusively told the Mirror: "She went missing for an hour. When we found her she was saying 'He did things to me'." Despite her ordeal, the girl joined police to search the streets and quickly spotted her abductor.

Nine days later Castree, then working as a cabbie, admitted indecent assault and making his victim commit indecency. He was fined £25 for each offence.

Two years later Castree struck again, this time grabbing the vulnerable boy of seven a mile from where he took Lesley and stripping him naked. He was later fined £50 for ABH. His victim has been in shock since learning the identity of his attacker.

He said: "By the time he did what he did to me, he'd already killed Lesley. I was lucky. I was only seven at the time so didn't really understand what happened. "I remember he was totally calm all the time. He told me to keep quiet." But the lad screamed. He said: "I don't think I'd be here today if I hadn't."

As Stefan languished in jail, Castree carried on with his life eventually starting a business selling comics which netted him £50,000 a year. Then his kinky sex life finally brought him down. When a prostitute complained he had assaulted her in 2005, he was arrested. A DNA sample was taken. Tests showed it was a perfect match for the sperm sample found on Lesley's body 30 years earlier.

In November 2006, by then married to second wife Karen, he was held for murder. The arrest was a triumph for lawyer Campbell Malone who promised Stefan's mum Charlotte he would not let the world forget her son's injustice. Wigan-based Mr Malone encouraged West Yorks police to re-open the case.

Original case notes were found in a locked room at a police station in Todmorden barely 200 yards from Mr Malone's home. They led to the crucial evidence which was unable to produce sperm.

Mr Malone said: "Charlotte always knew her son was innocent. They were together at home at the time of Lesley's death. "It was terrible for this man to let Stefan suffer. Not only did he destroy the Molseed family's life but he let another family be destroyed."

A report into the police handling of Stefan's case has been kept secret for more than 14 years. An application by the Mirror for the file to be released under the Freedom of Information Act was declined earlier this year. Lancashire Police said the public's best interest was best-served by "non was disclosure".

In 1994 DCI Dick Holland, CS Dibb and forensic scientist Ronald Outteridge were accused of destroying evidence and withholding statements from the defence, proving the whereabouts of Stefan on the day of the murder. Dibb died. Holland and Outteridge never faced trial after it was ruled it would be an "abuse of process." Police said yesterday: "It was a dreadful miscarriage of justice. Today we have put things right."

Timetable of the botched inquiry

OCTOBER 5, 1975: Lesley Molseed, 11, vanishes while on an errand for mum.

OCTOBER 8, 1975: Her body is found by a motorist eight miles from her Rochdale home on moors. She has been stabbed 12 times in frenzied sex attack.

DECEMBER 1975: Loner Stefan Kiszko, 23, arrested. Confesses after two days of questioning without a solicitor. Later retracts confession.

JULY 3, 1976:Girl aged nine snatched in street where Stefan lives.

JULY 12, 1976: Ronald Castree pleads guilty to that sex assault and is fined.

JULY 21, 1976: Jurors in Stefan's trial return majority verdict. Jailed for life.

MAY 1978: His first appeal fails.

OCTOBER 1991: Lesley's stepfather arrested. Released without charge.

FEBRUARY 18, 1992: Three appeal judges quash Stefan's conviction, ruling it "unsafe and unsatisfactory". Tory MP calls it "the worst miscarriage of justice of all time". But Stefan remains in hospital for another nine months having been diagnosed with schizophrenia.

1992: Paedophile Raymond Hewlett quizzed but not charged.

DECEMBER 23, 1993: Stefan dies from heart condition just a year after returning home. Mum Charlotte says his 16-year incarceration destroyed him, adding: "In some ways I'm glad he died first because I knew he would have grave difficulties surviving."

MAY 1994: Former detective and retired forensic scientist accused of perverting course of justice during the Lesley inquiry. Case dropped. Five months after his death Stefan's mother, who led tireless campaign to free him, dies of a broken heart.

OCTOBER 17, 1997: Lesley's mum April Garrett speaks out for the first time in 22 years calling for new inquiry.

1999-2000: Thanks to scientific developments, experts now have killer's DNA.

MAY 8, 2001: Police reopen case.

MARCH 2005: Lesley's grief-stricken brother Freddie commits suicide. It had been his turn to go to the shop for bread but his sister had taken over the errand.

OCTOBER 1, 2005: Castree arrested after prostitute attack. DNA is match.

NOVEMBER 5, 2006: He is charged.

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