Police in the dock

14 November 2007
Sue Carroll

In 1975, when 11-year-old Lesley Molseed was stabbed to death and her body dumped on a remote moor, the police approach to suspects was, to say the least, robust. Think of DCI Gene Hunt in 70s-style TV cop show Life On Mars and his determination to secure a conviction at any cost. We must assume it was this attitude which led to an innocent man, Stefan Kiszko, serving 16 years for a crime he didn't commit.

Lesley's real murderer, Ron Castree, was finally jailed this week, thanks to the miracle of DNA. But one disturbing question remains unanswered. Why did Stefan confess to something he didn't do?

After he was freed, 15 years ago, this sad, gentle giant of a man said, without a hint of bitterness, he did so because he was afraid of a beating. But the report into the police handling of Stefan's case has been kept secret and, despite attempts by this newspaper to get the file released, Lancashire Police insist the public's best interest is best served by non-disclosure.

I most vehemently disagree. Just as I fail to understand why DCI Dick Holland and forensic scientist Ronald Outteridge, who destroyed evidence which would've cleared Stefan from the start, were not in the dock. War criminals can still be brought to justice so why can't those coppers who knowingly condemned an innocent man to years of hell?

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