Page last updated at 16:16 GMT, Monday, 12 November 2007

Man guilty of 1975 child murder

Ronald Castree
Castree had convictions for sexually assaulting another young girl

A 54-year-old man has been jailed for life for the murder of schoolgirl Lesley Molseed more than 30 years ago.

Ronald Castree, of Brandon Crescent, Oldham, Greater Manchester, was told by the judge at Bradford Crown Court he must serve a minimum of 30 years.

Lesley, 11, vanished from her Rochdale home in October 1975. Her body was later found on moors in West Yorkshire.

Stefan Kiszko was wrongly convicted for the murder and spent 16 years in jail. He died soon after his release.

You left [Lesley] for dead, drove back to Rochdale and carried on with the rest of your life as if nothing had happened
Judge Mr Justice Openshaw

The guilty verdict came after 11 hours and 38 minutes of deliberations by the jury and was a majority decision.

After the sentencing Lesley's mother, April Garrett, read a statement outside the court.

She said: "We are relieved that after so long our quest for justice for Lesley is now over.

"It has been a long and harrowing ordeal, and our gratitude to the friends, family and strangers throughout the world who have given us their support is immense.

"We would particularly like to thank the West Yorkshire police force whose dedication and professionalism played a key role in the outcome today. They have been more than police, they have been friends."

Lesley Molseed
Lesley had been stabbed 12 times and sexually assaulted

The jury heard Castree, a comic book dealer, had abducted Lesley as she went on an errand for her mother on Sunday 5 October, 1975.

Her body was found three days later on moors on the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester border.

She had been stabbed 12 times during a "frenzied attack", the jury was told.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Openshaw said: "This was a truly dreadful crime. Lesley Molseed was only 11.

"She was vulnerable, not just because of her age but because of her learning difficulties.

"You approached her, you would have no difficulty in luring her away for she was trusting."

He added: "You repeatedly stabbed her. You left her for dead, drove back to Rochdale and carried on with the rest of your life as if nothing had happened.

"It was a pretence you kept up for 32 years. Your past has now caught up with you."

DNA match

As Castree was taken from the court he tried to address the judge, crying: "My Lord," but was cut off by the judge with the words: "No. You have had your say."

Castree replied: "I did not do it," as he was led from the dock.

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.

Castree told the jury he had no idea how his DNA ended up at the scene of the murder.

His defence team had tried to argue it was "overwhelmingly probable" a convicted paedophile called Raymond Hewlett was Lesley's murderer.

Print Sponsor

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