Castree defence team claim former Todmorden man killed Lesley

A FORMER Todmorden man has been named as the probable killer of Lesley Molseed by the lawyer defending an Oldham man standing trial for the schoolgirl's murder.

Ronald Castree's defence counsel Rodney Jameson QC told Bradford Crown Court that there was "an overwhelming possibility" that the man who sexually assaulted Lesley and stabbed her 12 times was convicted paedophile Raymond Hewlett, who was living in Todmorden in the mid 1970s.

Castree, of Brandon Crescent, Shaw, Oldham, denies murdering the 11-year-old schoolgirl on moorland above Ripponden in October 1975.

But the 54-year-old defendant was unable to explain to the court how his DNA was found inside Lesley's knickers.

The jury at the murder trial was told that the prosecution has proved its case beyond doubt.

Julian Goose QC said: "The prosecution say the evidence you have heard in this trial proves Ronald Castree abducted Lesley Molseed from the streets of the Turf Hill Estate, Rochdale.

"He drove her off away from Rochdale to that moorland where he sexually assaulted her, ejaculating into the inside of her knickers and murdering her by stabbing her 12 times."

Mr Goose reminded the jury of the DNA evidence against Castree obtained from sperm found inside Lesley's knickers.

Castree could not explain the evidence other than suggesting he may have been framed by two police officers he crossed swords with in 1979 or that the profile was the result of cross-contamination.

Mr Goose said his explanation was "nonsense".

He said: "The probability of this defendant's profile being the same as some other unrelated person's is one in a billion.

"The clear evidence in this case is compelling and overwhelming."

The court heard that a DNA sample taken from Castree, when he was arrested on an unrelated matter in 2005, was a direct match with the sample from the murder scene.

Castree told the court he was unfaithful to his first wife and had casual sex regularly in the back of the London style taxi he drove at the time of the murder.

He said he had never had sexual relations with Lesley or any member of the Molseed family.

When asked about his previous convictions of indecently assaulting a nine-year-old girl and inciting her to commit an act of gross indecency in 1976, Castree said: "I have no clear memory of what happened that evening – it has caused me many sleepless nights."

Earlier Rodney Jameson QC, defending Castree, told the court there was "an overwhelming possibility" that Lesley had been murdered by convicted paedophile Hewlett. He went on to list the crimes Hewlett had been convicted of in the 1970s, including sex attacks on young girls.

Hewlett had targeted child victims several times and in 1972 used paint thinner to knock-out a young girl he had abducted and taken to Widdup Moor near Todmorden where he tried to rape her.

In 1978 Hewlett attempted to sexually assault another girl in her Todmorden home.

Mr Jameson said on October 5, 1975 – the day of Lesley's disappearance – Hewlett's turquoise Morris 1000 van was seen parked in the lay-by on the A672 Oldham-Halifax Road next to the isolated spot where Lesley's body was found.

It had a tartan blanket, that Hewlett had stolen in Scotland, wrapped around its windscreen and side windows so that passers-by believed there was a courting couple inside.

One witness, Christopher Coverdale, has described seeing a man with a girl matching Lesley's description walking up the hillside next to the lay-by.

Hewlett arrived back in Todmorden at 5pm and told his teenage girlfriend, Rosalee Dolan, with whom he was having a passionate affair, to provide him with a false alibi.

The pair first fled to Burnley where they stayed with two friends, Michael and John Goodall. Later they went to Liverpool and then fled to Ireland.

In a statement made in 1992, when police re-opened the case after the release of Stefan Kiszko, who had been wrongly convicted of Lesley's murder, Ms Dolan told police she believed she was providing an alibi for Hewlett because she believed he had stolen a car.

She said: "As far as I was concerned I was telling lies about the theft of a car, which was nothing significant to me."

Hewlett was reinvestigated for the murder and interviewed again while serving a six-year prison sentence for a sexual offence committed in 1988.

- Proceeding