'In prison where he belongs'

1 August 2008
Rossendale Free Press
Simon Coyle

The son of convicted killer Ronald Castree has welcomed a decision by Court of Appeal judges this week to refuse his father leave to appeal against his conviction. Castree, 55, also lost a fight to reduce the length of his jail sentence – a minimum of 30 years – imposed after he was found guilty of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed’s murder at Bradford Crown Court last November.

Following the ruling at Leeds Crown Court on Tuesday, Castree’s son Nick Tighe, 29, of Rawtenstall, said:
‘It is the right thing. I have always said from day one that I knew it was him and that he was capable of doing it. ‘I am just glad that he is being kept in prison where he belongs. He has never shown any remorse, so why should he be given the chance to be released?’
Lesley went missing from her Rochdale home in October 1975. She was found dead having been stabbed 12 times. She had been sexually assaulted – an offence Castree was also found guilty of by the jury.  DNA evidence taken from an item of Lesley’s clothing played a key role in Castree’s conviction; members of the trial jury were told there was a one in a billion chance that the DNA did not belong to him.

Rodney Jameson QC, Castree’s defence counsel, told Leeds Crown Court that the sample could have been contaminated and argued that evidence given by a witness at the trial could not be relied on. But the Court of Appeal judges threw out the argument and refused Castree leave to appeal against his conviction.

Lord Justice Latham said that the appeal bid involved ‘entirely speculative material’ that had already been examined by the trial jury, adding: ‘We do not consider that there is any arguable basis in which this conviction can be said to be unsafe.’

The three judges went on to reject Castree’s bid to appeal against the minimum prison sentence of 30 years.

Lord Justice Latham said: ‘This was without doubt a horrific murder. The sexual violence itself was not of the worst kind but the actual killing was a savage attack with a knife. It merits the most severe punishment. We do not believe that the judge’s decision was wrong.’

Former taxi driver Castree, of Brandon Crescent, Shaw, Oldham, was able to live the life of a free man for more than 30 years after ‘gentle giant’ Stefan Kiszko was wrongly convicted of the murder. He served 16 years behind bars before being freed on appeal in 1992; he died, aged 41, in December 1993.

Mr Tighe appeared in the Free Press last month after being rejected for a job with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) due to his father’s criminal background – despite having not seen him for 10 years. A GMP spokesman said job applicants whose close family had criminal convictions were not automatically barred from joining the force, but issues including the seriousness of the crime and the relationship between the applicant and family member were among the considerations before making a final decision.

He said a letter of complaint from Mr Tighe was being dealt with.

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