You've got the wrong man again, says 'sex murder' defendant

6 November 2007
The Daily Express
Paul Broster

The man accused of sexually assaulting and murdering 11y ear-old Lesley Molseed yesterday insisted: "I did not kill her." Comic book trader Ronald Castree, 54, denied snatching her 32 years ago and stabbing her to death on desolate moorland. Instead his defence team named "violent and dangerous paedophile" Raymond Hewlett.

They claimed it was "highly probable" he had carried out the horrific crime. Hewlett was known to have preyed on young girls in the area and was arrested after the case was reopened in 1992 but released after the Director of Public Prosecutions decided not to press charges.

However Castree admitted abducting and molesting another girl. Taking to the witness stand, Castree claimed the similarities between the two attacks were "nothing more than coincidence." Earlier his barrister, Rodney Jameson QC, asked him: "Did you kill Lesley Molseed?" The father of three replied: "No sir. I did not kill Lesley Molseed."

Bradford Crown Court heard how Castree was seized last year after DNA taken from Lesley's clothing was a "perfect" match for his profile. While he remained free, innocent tax clerk Stefan Kiszko spent 16 years in jail after he was wrongly convicted. He was released on appeal but died a year later aged just 42.

Lesley was taken from a street near her home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, in October 1975 as she walked to shops to buy bread for her mother for Sunday dinner. Married part-time taxi driver Castree, then 21, confessed to the court that he regularly cheated on his wife at the time by having casual sex in his cab with drunken girls he picked up from outside nightclubs.

Nine months after Lesley was killed he admitted snatching a nine-yearold in Rochdale and abusing her after driving her to a derelict house. Asked about the attack, he said a psychiatrist blamed his behaviour on exhaustion from working long hours. He added: "I have no clear memory of what happened that evening. "It has caused me many sleepless nights. I can't explain what happened. It is so out of character for me. I am still ashamed. I can no more explain it today than I could then."

Under cross-examination Castree, who lived in Rochdale at the time of the murder, also said he "could not explain" why DNA matching his profile was found on Lesley's clothing. Julian Goose QC, prosecuting, told him he had lied during police interviews after his arrest by telling detectives he had never touched young girls or had affairs.

He added: "You abducted Lesley Molseed from the pavement. You drove her to those moors. "On those moors you sexually abused her. You stabbed her 12 times and left her body there for days."

Castree, of Shaw, near Oldham, replied: "No sir, I certainly did not." The trial continues.

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