Belfast Telegraph

The devastated relatives who are still awaiting answers

By Chris Kilpatrick

The small market town of Dromore was rocked when a murder probe was launched into the sudden deaths of three local women.

Last August Leslie Ross (66) was arrested over the deaths in the Co Down town.

The well-known local businessman was in relationships with all three of the women.

Michelle Bickerstaff (47) died in April 2012; Margaret Weise (50) in August 2007, and Elizabeth McKee (52) in December 2002.

The families of two of the deceased women told the Belfast Telegraph at the time of Ross's arrest that they were desperate for answers.

Ms Bickerstaff's sister, Yvette Sparks, said there were no words to describe how she felt.

Ms Sparks said her sister's death was still extremely hard for her family, particularly her elderly mother Dorothy, who is in her 80s and lives in Dromore in the house she shared with Michelle, a mother-of-four.

Jenny Dixon, Elizabeth McKee's daughter, said her family wanted answers more than 10 years after her mother's death: "We want to see justice for my mother and for all the other families. I do know the PSNI has been working extremely hard on this."

Speaking about her mother's death in December 2002, she added: "My mother was a lovely, kind woman."

The late Ms McKee's grandson, Ryan Dixon (22), added: "She was an ideal granny. She was good fun. She spoiled me."

Earlier this month lawyers for Ross argued that fatal head injuries suffered by two of the women could have been due to alcohol-related falls rather than to violence.

Defence counsel Charles McKay QC claimed the case against his client was weak.

He argued that pathologist reports into the deaths could not show Ross was responsible for the injuries.

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