West Yorkshire Police
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Lesley Molseed Murder
Ronald Charles Edward Castree has been found guilty by a jury at Bradford Crown Court of the murder of Lesley Molseed in 1975.
He has received life imprisonment.
Ground-breaking scientific techniques led to Lesley Molseed’s killer being brought to justice 32 years after her murder.
A DNA profile obtained from semen on Lesley Molseed’s clothing matched Ronald Castree. The chance of someone else having the same profile is 1 in a billion.
“Lesley was abducted and brutally killed. She was taken from the safety of her home and community, subjected to a terrifying and frenzied attack and then abandoned in the bleakest of resting places.
“No-one deserves the kind of anxiety that Lesley’s family have endured over the years not knowing until now who killed her. They have been extremely supportive of the work that we have done and I am delighted that Castree has been brought to justice for their sake.”
West Yorkshire Police carry out regular reviews of undetected murder cases to ascertain if there are any developments in forensic science techniques which may assist the investigation and to establish if people can provide information which they were unwilling, or unable, to provide at the time of the initial enquiry.
Det Chief Supt Max Mclean was appointed to carry out the review in 1999 and police and forensic scientists subsequently recovered items kept from the original investigation.
Tapings of fibres taken from Lesley’s clothing at the time of her murder - to establish whether there was any contact between Lesley and her killer - were retrieved.
Originally the fibres were taken away for examination and the tapings were retained and archived. Advancements in DNA technology meant that in 2000 forensic scientists developed a ground-breaking technique especially for this investigation using the tapings.
The tapings were examined to find out whether, during the original process to collect fibres from Lesley’s clothing, any sperm heads had also been transferred on to the tapings.
The examination was successful and they managed to develop a full DNA profile from recovered sperm heads which was subsequently placed on the National DNA database.
Cathy Turner, of the Forensic Science Service, said: “This has been a very long-running investigation and we are delighted that the offender has now been brought to justice. The initial forensic review of the case revealed very few opportunities. However, with the application of new, world-leading scientific techniques that the FSS has developed in the time since the crime was committed, we obtained a result that was the turning point in the investigation.”
West Yorkshire Police re-launched the investigation into Lesley’s death. An incident room was set up at Halifax Police Station where a small group of officers worked on the case which had never been closed.
They followed up new leads as well as revisiting information taken from the original enquiry in 1975 in which nearly more than 6,000 statements were taken and nearly 2,000 people spoken to.
The investigation featured on BBC’s ‘Crimewatch’ programme in February 2003. More than 250 calls were received as a result.
A small team of detectives worked on the case sifting through a vast amount of documentation to identify possible suspects. Many people interviewed still lived in the same area as they did in 1975 and were quite easy to find. However, some had moved to other parts of the country, and also other corners of the world.
Rochdale-born Ronald Castree was arrested in Oldham for a separate offence and routinely provided a DNA sample which was subsequently matched to this murder investigation on the national DNA database.
He was arrested in November last year on suspicion of Lesley’s murder. Having previously given up his lease at Arcadia Comic Shops, he was unemployed at the time of his arrest.
Enquiries revealed that at the time of Lesley’s murder he lived in Oldham Road, Rochdale. He was working as a taxi driver in Rochdale, his wife was in hospital and he was at home alone.
Det Chief Supt Mclean said: “We recognise that there were other victims in this investigation including the dreadful miscarriage of justice in relation to Stefan Kiszko. We are pleased to see the real murderer finally brought to justice.
“Ronald Castree allowed an innocent man to go to prison for a crime he did not commit. Despite repeated appeals for information - including when the investigation was relaunched, the anniversary of Lesley’s death and on what would have been Lesley’s 40th birthday as well as the BBC Crimewatch appeal - he never came forward.
“We have worked very closely with the Forensic Science Service on this enquiry and greatly value the contribution they have made.”