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Ronald Charles Edward CASTREE

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: October 5, 1975
Date of arrest: November 5, 2006 (31 years later)
Date of birth: October 18, 1953
Victim profile: Lesley Molseed, 11
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Manchester, Great Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Status: Sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 30 years on November 12, 2007
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Ronald Charles Edward Castree was convicted on 12 November 2007 for the murder of Lesley Molseed.

On Sunday 5 November 2006, it was announced that a 53 year old man had been arrested in connection with the murder of Lesley Molseed that had taken place in 1975. DNA evidence was alleged to have shown a "direct hit" with a sample found at the scene of the murder.

Ronald Castree of Shaw and Crompton, Greater Manchester, was charged with the murder of Lesley Molseed and made his first court appearance on 7 November 2006 where he was remanded in custody. At a court hearing on 19 April 2007, Castree pleaded not guilty. On 23 April 2007 he was refused bail.

Castree's trial began at Bradford Crown Court on 22 October 2007. He was found guilty on 12 November 2007 and jailed for life, with a recommendation to serve a minimum of 30 years, which is expected to keep him in prison until the age of 84.

A DNA sample from Castree, taken in 2005 when he was arrested but not charged in connection with another sex attack, was a direct match with a semen sample found on Lesley's underwear. During the trial a scientist has told a jury how DNA taken from the underwear of murdered schoolgirl Lesley Molseed were linked to the man accused of her murder. Dr Gemma Escott explained to Bradford Crown Court the chances of the semen samples belonging to anyone other than the defendant were one in one billion.

Two weeks before he killed Molseed, Castree's wife gave birth to a son whose biological father was a man she had an affair with. It is believed that this was a trigger into Castree's murder of Molseed.

Originally from the Turf Hill estate of Rochdale, for many years, Castree was a taxi driver who lived in nearby Shaw and Crompton. He was unpopular with his neighbours, who said he had a very nasty temper. His former wife said "he was foul with his mouth, and foul with his fists".

 
 

The Lesley Molseed murder involved the murder of an 11 year old British girl in 1975. Stefan Kiszko, a tax clerk, was the subject of an infamous miscarriage of justice in the case.

He was wrongly convicted of the sexual assault and murder which took place on 5 October 1975 in Rochdale, Greater Manchester. Ronald Castree was found guilty of the crime on 12 November 2007.

Crime and subsequent developments

On the day of her murder, Lesley Molseed had agreed to go down to the shop to get some bread for her mother. She never returned and a search immediately went underway. Her body was found three days later, on the moors nearby. She had been stabbed 12 times. Her clothing was undisturbed, but the killer had ejaculated on her underwear.

Whilst the hunt was underway, three teenage girls claimed that Stefan Kiszko had indecently exposed himself to them the day before Lesley Molseed was murdered. One of them also said that he had exposed himself to her a month after the murder, on Bonfire night and had been stalking her for some time previous to that.

West Yorkshire Police quickly formed the view that Kiszko fitted the profile of the person likely to have killed Lesley Molseed even though he had never been in trouble with the law and had no social life beyond his mother and aunt.

Kiszko also had an unusual hobby of writing down registration numbers of cars that annoyed him, which led the police to believe that he was a likely suspect. The police now pursued evidence which might incriminate him, and ignored other leads that might have taken them in other directions.

Acting on the teenage girls' information and his idiosyncratic hobby, the police arrested Kiszko on 21 December 1975. They seized on any inconsistencies between his various accounts of the relevant days as further demonstration of his guilt. Kiszko confessed to the crime after two days of questioning.

The police did not tell him of his right to have a solicitor present. When he asked if he could have his mother present when he was being questioned, they refused to grant him this request and did not caution him until well after they had decided he was the prime suspect.

After pleading guilty, Kiszko was charged of Molseed's murder. When he entered Armley Jail on Christmas Eve, 1975, he was nicknamed "Oliver Laurel" because he had the girth of Oliver Hardy and the perplexed air of Oliver's comedy sidekick Stan Laurel.

Kiszko remained there until his murder trial, which began on 7 July 1976. He was defended by David Waddington QC, who later became Home Secretary in October 1989. The prosecuting QC, Peter Taylor, went on to become Lord Chief Justice, by coincidence the day after Kiszko was cleared of the murder in 1992.

Taylor was most noted for his reports into the Hillsborough Disaster at the Sheffield Wednesday FC football stadium at Hillsborough, Sheffield. If Kiszko's conviction had been reviewed say three months later, he would have almost certainly been removed from the panel.

Poor defence

Kiszko's defence team made significant mistakes. Firstly, they did not seek an adjournment when the Crown delivered thousands of pages of additional unused material on the first morning of the trial.

Then there was the inconsistent defence of diminished responsibility which Kiszko never authorised, on the grounds that the testosterone he was receiving for his hypogonadism might have made him behave unusually. Kiszko's endocrinologist, if called, would have said that his treatment could not have caused him to act in the way he was charged with. He was never called.

The manslaughter claim undermined Kiszko's claims that he was totally innocent and destroyed his alibis (a defence known in legal parlance as 'riding two horses'). In fact, his innocence could have been demonstrated at the trial.

The pathologist who examined Molseed's clothes found traces of sperm, whereas the semen sample taken from Kiszko by the police contained no sperm. There was medical evidence that Kiszko had broken his ankle some months before the murder and, in view of that and his being overweight, he would have found it difficult to scale the slope to the murder spot. The sperm findings were suppressed by the police and never disclosed to the defence team or the jury: The medical evidence of his broken ankle was not disclosed either.

At the trial, Kiszko said that in July 1975 he had had become ill and had been admitted to Birch Hill Hospital, where he was given a blood transfusion. In August he was transferred to a Manchester hospital and diagnosed as being anaemic and having a hormone deficiency. He agreed to injections to ratify the latter problems and was discharged in September 1975.

He said correctly that he never had met Molseed and therefore could never have murdered her and claimed he was with his Aunt tending to his father's grave in Halifax at the time of the murder before visiting a Garden centre and then going home. His denials of murder were not believed by the jury, nor were his claims that the confession was bullied out of him by the police.

When asked why he had confessed, Kiszko replied that "I started to tell these lies and they seemed to please them and the pressure was off as far as I was concerned. I thought if I admitted what I did to the police they would check out what I had said, find it untrue and would then let me go".

His conviction was secured by a 10-2 majority jury verdict on 21 July 1976 at Leeds Crown Court after five hours and 35 minutes deliberation. He was given a life sentence for committing Molseed's murder.

Mr (Later Sir) Hugh Park told Kiszko that he would serve life in prison and when he disappeared, praised the teenage girls who made the exposure claims for their "Bravery and honesty" and "Sharp observations". He also praised the police officers involved in the case "For their great skill in bringing to justice the person responsible for this dreadful crime and their expertise in sifting through masses of material" and said that "I would like all the officers responsible for the result to be specially commended and these observations conveyed to the Chief Constable".

Sheila Buckley, whose daughter Maxine played a major part in securing Kiszko's conviction, attacked the police for not arresting him earlier and told the Manchester Evening News that "Children are a lot safer now this monster has been put away". Like the Molseed family, she called for Kiszko's immediate execution.

Unsuccessful appeal

As a convicted sex offender, Kiszko was bitterly detested by most inmates, receiving numerous taunts and death threats in the months after his conviction, both verbal and written. Despite this, he was still attacked twice during his time in prison.

The first time was the day after his conviction, when he was set upon by six prisoners who punched and kicked him repeatedly, severely injuring his leg, making him unable to walk for six weeks. Guards had to pull the prisoners away to prevent further injury.

Kiszko was also attacked on May 11, 1977 by another inmate, who hit him with a mop handle in a fit of rage due to Kiszko being a convicted child-killer and sex offender, causing him to need 17 stitches to a head wound. He was never physically attacked again during his time in prison but he needed constant protection and had to be isolated for his own safety under Rule 43. Other less violent prisoners refused to speak to Kiszko during his years in jail.

Kiszko launched an appeal, but it was thrown out on May 25, 1978, when Lord Justice Bridge said "We can find no grounds whatsoever to condemn the jury's verdict of murder as in any way unsafe or unsatisfactory".

Kiszko later developed schizophrenia whilst in prison and began to suffer from delusions, one being that he was the victim of a plot to incarcerate an innocent tax-office employee so the effects of imprisonment would be tested on him.

All of Kiszko's claims of innocence were labelled by prisons or hospitals he was held in as symptoms of his schizophrenic delusions, or because they felt he was in a mental state of denial over the murder. In 1983 Kiszko was told that he would only ever be eligible for parole if he admitted to having carried out the murder. If he continued to deny it, then he would spend the rest of his natural life behind bars. He still refused to admit it.

In 1988 the Governor of Grendon Underwood Prison, where Kiszko was held at the time, tried to persuade him to go on a Sex Offenders' Treatment Programme, in which he would have had to admit committing the rape and murder. Having done that, he would have had to discuss what motivated him to do it. He refused to take part in it. Kiszko also repeatedly and persistently refused to "address his offending behaviour" on the grounds that he had nothing to address.

Case reopened

After eight years of being ignored and stonewalled by politicians and the legal system, in 1984 Kiszko's mother contacted Justice, the international jurists' organisation which investigates miscarriages of Justice. She was also put in touch with Campbell Malone in 1987, who agreed to take a look at the case at a time when it seemed almost certain that Kiszko would never be released, due to his refusals to admitting carrying out the murder. Malone agreed to take a look at the case, and consulted Philip Clegg (who had been Waddington's junior at the trial). Clegg had expressed his own doubts about the confession and conviction back in July 1976.

Over the next two years, Malone and Clegg prepared a petition to the Home Secretary. The draft was finally ready on 26 October 1989. On the same day, by coincidence, a new Home Secretary was announced: David Waddington. Despite (or perhaps because of) Waddington's delicate position in the matter, nearly eighteen months passed before a police investigation into the conduct of the original trial began. Waddington resigned as Home Secretary in November 1990 to take up a peerage and to serve as Leader of the House of Lords. He was replaced by Kenneth Baker.

In March 1991 Campbell Malone, with the help of a private detective named Peter Jackson finally urged the Home Office to reopen the case, which was then referred back to the West Yorkshire Police.

Detective Superintendent Trevor Wilkinson was assigned to the job. He immediately found several glaring errors. Kiszko's innocence was demonstrated conclusively through medical evidence; he had male hypogonadism, which rendered him infertile, contradicting forensic evidence obtained at the time of the murder. During his research, Jackson found someone who said correctly that Kiszko had been tending his father's grave with an Aunt. They said they couldn't understand why they hadn't been called to give evidence at the trial.

The three females involved in the conviction admitted during the investigation that the evidence they gave which led to Kiszko's arrest and conviction was lies, and that they had given it for "a laugh". They said that Kiszko hadn't exposed himself to them and hadn't been stalking them, but that they had seen a taxi driver urinating behind a bush on the day of Molseed's murder.

In August 1991, the new findings in Kiszko's case were referred to Kenneth Baker, who immediately passed them on to the Court of Appeal.

The judicial investigation into Kiszko's conviction began on 17 February 1992. It was heard by three judges, Lord Lane, Mr Justice Rose and Mr Justice Potts. Although they were present to argue that Kiszko was still guilty of the murder and present their reasons why they believed he was, the Crown did not put up any opposition after hearing the new evidence and they immediately accepted it's validity.

Lord Chief Justice Lane said "It has been shown that this man cannot produce sperm. This man cannot have been the person responsible for ejaculating over the girl's knickers and skirt, and consequently cannot have been the murderer".

Kiszko was both cleared and released from prison custody the following day. He was in Prestwich Psychiatric Hospital for treatment of his schizophrenia when he was told of his clearance of the murder, where he had been since December 1991. Anthony Beaumont-Dark, a Conservative MP said "This must be the worst miscarriage of justice of all time" and, like many others, demanded an inquiry into his conviction.

Sir Hugh Park, who had praised the police and the then 13-year-old girls for bringing Kiszko to justice at the trial, apologised for what had happened to Kiszko but he said he wasn't sorry for how he had handled the court case. The Molseed family also publicly apologised for the things they had said after the conviction, such as urging for Kiszko to be hanged.

Lesley Molseed's father hurled a volley of angry verbal abuse at Charlotte Kiszko outside the court after her son was convicted of the murder but in 1992 he apologised. Kiszko's mother said that it was David Waddington who ought to be strung up for his pro capital punishment views and for the way he handled her son's defence at the 1976 trial.

Despite the obvious evidence stating that Kiszko was innocent, Maxine Buckley and the two other than teenage girls, who had admitting to making false allegations, the West Yorkshire police and the forensic scientists all refused to apologise to Kiszko for his wrongful conviction. The girls and Peter Taylor, who prosecuted Kiszko, refused to comment at all. The West Yorkshire Police still tried to justify their position in 1975, whilst admitting they were wrong.

The West Yorkshire Police finally apologised for Kiszko's wrongful arrest and imprisonment on November 12, 2007, when Detective Chief Superintendent Max McLean said of Kiszko's wrongful imprisonment: "We are very sorry. It was a dreadful miscarriage of justice. I am so pleased that today we have put things right."

Kiszko needed further treatment but was allowed home fully a few months after being cleared, but the years of incarceration for something he hadn't done, and his ordeals whilst incarcerated had both mentally and emotionally destroyed him. Kiszko became a recluse and showed no interest in anything or anyone. Other people's apologies for what had happened, encouragement and support seemed to frighten him on the rare occasions when he did venture out.

Stefan Kiszko died of a massive heart attack two days before Christmas 1993, exactly 18 years to the day after he made the confession that led to his wrongful conviction for murder. He was 41 years old. Lesley Molseed's sister was one of those who attended his funeral two weeks later. She paid tribute, after hating Kiszko from the time of this conviction right up to his release. His mother Charlotte died four months later, on May 3, 1994, at the age of 70.

After he was released, Kiszko was told he would receive 500,000 in compensation for the years he spent in prison. He received an interim payment but neither he or his mother got the full amount they were awarded as both died before they were due to receive it.

A TV film adaptation of the tragic story of Stefan Kiszko was made in 1998, A Life for a Life, directed by Stephen Whittaker and featuring Tony Maudsley as Stefan and Olympia Dukakis as his mother Charlotte.

Further developments

On Sunday 5 November 2006, it was announced that a 53 year old man had been arrested in connection with the murder. DNA evidence was alleged to have shown a "direct hit" with a sample found at the scene of the murder.

Ronald Castree of Shaw and Crompton, Greater Manchester, was charged with the murder of Lesley Molseed and made his first court appearance on 7 November 2006 where he was remanded in custody. At a court hearing on 19 April 2007, Castree pleaded not guilty. On the 23rd of April 2007 he was refused bail..

Castree's trial began at Bradford Crown Court on 22nd October 2007, and on the 12th November 2007, Castree was found guilty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 30 years. Ronald Castree was found guilty of Molseed's murder by a 10-2 majority. Coincidentally, this was the margin that Stefan Kiszko was found guilty of in 1976.

In 1994 the surviving senior officer in charge of the original investigation Detective Chief Inspector Dick Holland and the forensic scientist who worked on the case Ronald Outteridge (retired), were formally charged with "doing acts tending to pervert the course of justice" by allegedly suppressing evidence against Kiszko, namely the results of scientific tests on semen taken from the victim's body and from the accused.

On May Day, 1995 the case was challenged by defence barristers, arguing that the case was an abuse of process and that charges should be stayed as the passage of time had, ironically, made a fair trial impossible. The presiding magistrate agreed and as the case has never appeared before a jury, the law regards the accused as innocent.

DCI Holland, who came to public prominence as a senior officer on the flawed investigation into the murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper, retired in 2000 and died in February 2007 at the age of 74.

Outteridge gave evidence at the trial of Castree. Mr Justice Potts, who was one of the judges at Kiszko's appeal in 1992, sentenced Jeffrey Archer to four years imprisonment in 2001 for Perjury at his 1987 Libel case with the Daily Star.

Wikipedia.org

 

 

 
 
 
 
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