A pauper’s funeral for convicted paedophile

16 April 2010
Manchester Evening News
Neal Keeling

A convicted paedophile wrongly believed to have abducted and killed 11-year-old Rochdale schoolgirl Lesley Molseed in 1975 has died.

Raymond Hewlett, 64, who was also named as a suspect in the kidnapping of Madeleine McCann, died of throat cancer and was cremated at a pauper's funeral in Germany four months ago.

At the time of Lesley's murder, Hewlett, then 30, from Todmorden, West Yorkshire was married but having an affair with a 15-year-old.

The day after her body was recovered he fled to Ireland telling his teenage lover they had to avoid the police.

He became the prime suspect in Lesley's murder after Stefan Kiszko, the man convicted of her murder, was cleared of the crime by Appeal Court judges in 1992, after spending 16 years in prison.

Mr Kiszko died shortly afterwards. Hewlett was named as the person most likely to have carried out the killing of Lesley in a book published by a former detective in 1997.

As a result, the Molseed family campaigned in Todmorden, the town where Hewlett lived at the time of Lesley's killing, handing out leaflets naming Hewlett and calling for justice for Lesley.

However, after the introduction of DNA profiling in 2003, police finally cleared Hewlett of Lesley's murder. Hewlett, the son of a Blackpool baker, served with the Scots Guards. Later, he worked on fairgrounds before committing a string of sexual offences.

In 1972 he was jailed after abducting a 12-year-old girl on her way to school and taking her to the moors 10 miles from Todmorden. He had made her lose consciousness by putting a rag soaked in paint thinner over her face then sexually assaulting her.

In 1978 Hewlett attacked another girl in Todmorden. He went into the house of someone he knew while their daughter was alone at home.

Armed with a gun he tried to strip her but fled when she told him a visitor was expected. He was jailed for four years for that offence.In 1988 he was jailed again after kidnapping and indecently assaulting a 14-year-old newspaper delivery girl in Mold, north Wales.

In November 2007, Ronald Castree, a taxi driver from Shaw, near Oldham, was convicted of the killing of Lesley - 32 years after her death. He was jailed for life and told he must serve a minimum of 30 years.

When police reinvestigated Lesley's murder Hewlett quickly became a suspect.

They spoke to witnesses who had seen what looked like his van in the lay-by off the A672 near to where Lesley's body was found. It was where he used to take his teenage girlfriend to have sex.

They also interviewed convicts he was in jail with when he was questioned about Lesley's killing. All said he had disguised the issue, saying he was being interviewed about killing a woman rather than a child, but one said he had admitted to killing her.

Shortly before he died Hewlett admitted he was in the Algarve, Portugal at the time Madeleine McCann was snatched from the resport in May 2007. He looked strikingly similar to pictures of a suspect seen lurking near her apartment. But he insisted he had nothing to do with her disappearance.

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