Man jailed for life for 1975 schoolgirl murder

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LONDON, Nov 13 (Reuters) A man was jailed for life for murdering schoolgirl Lesley Molseed over 30 years ago after detectives used ground-breaking DNA techniques to identify him.

Ronald Castree, 54, was convicted at Bradford Crown Court for stabbing to death the 11-year-old who vanished after going to shops near her home in Rochdale in October 1975.

Her body was then dumped on moorland.

''We are relieved that after so long our quest for justice for Lesley is now over,'' Lesley's mother, April Garrett, said in a statement yesterday.

''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.'' In 1976 Stefan Kiszko, who was mentally ill, was jailed for the murder, but freed in 1992 after forensic evidence showed he was not the killer.

Kiszko, who died soon after he was released, claimed he was framed by detectives who were eager to get a quick conviction.

West Yorkshire Police, who reopened the inquiry, said they had trapped Castree using a DNA profile of semen found on Molseed's clothing.

That matched a sample taken from him after he was arrested for a separate offence.

''The initial forensic review of the case revealed very few opportunities,'' said Cathy Turner, of the Forensic Science Service.

''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.'' Detectives said Castree had been working as a taxi driver at the time of Molseed's death and his wife had been ill in hospital at the time.

''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,'' said Detective Chief Superintendent Max Mclean.

''No one deserves the kind of anxiety that Lesley's family have endured over the years not knowing until now who killed her. We are pleased to see the real murderer finally brought to justice.'' REUTERS SBA RAI0453

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