THE man accused of murdering schoolgirl Lesley Molseed more than 30 years ago told a jury yesterday that he did not kill the 11-year-old.
Ronald Castree, 54, was asked if he was guilty almost as soon as he took to the witness box at Bradford Crown Court.
Rodney Jameson QC, defending, asked him: “Did you murder Lesley Molseed?”
Standing with his hands clasped in front on him, bald-headed Castree replied: “No, sir. I did not kill Lesley Molseed.”
Wearing a grey suit and a white shirt with a blue tie, he was giving evidence at the start of the third week of his trial.
Earlier Mr Jameson told the jury it was “overwhelmingly probable” a “dangerous and violent paedophile” called Raymond Hewlett killed little Lesley.
A jury has heard how Lesley went missing from her home in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, as she was running an errand for her mother on October 5, 1975.
Her body was found three days later at Ripponden, on the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester border, on moors near to the A672 Oldham to Ripponden road.
She had been stabbed 12 times during a “frenzied attack”, the jury has heard.
The jury has already heard how an innocent man, tax clerk Stefan Kiszko, was wrongly convicted of Lesley’s murder and spent 16 years in prison.
After Mr Kiszko’s release scientists built up a DNA profile of whoever left the semen which was found in Lesley’s pants.
The court has been told how 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 1975 murder scene.
Castree, of Shaw, Oldham, denies one count of murder.
The jury has heard how Castree admitted a sex attack on a nine-year-old girl in 1976.
Today he told the court he was still ashamed of what he did to her.
“I have no clear memory of what happened. It’s caused me many sleepless nights since,” Castree told the jury.
“It was so out of character for me.”
He went on: “I’m still ashamed of it.
“I can no more explain it today than I could then.”