Belfast Telegraph

Triple death charge man Leslie Ross in sex abuse claim probe

By Chris Kilpatrick

A pensioner accused of murdering three former girlfriends has been questioned by detectives over sex abuse claims.

Leslie Ross is currently in custody charged with killing his former partners over a 10-year period.

Ross was also initially charged with three other offences – indecent assault, gross indecency with a child and indecently assaulting a female child – all on dates between 1979 and 1990.

Earlier this year prosecutors withdrew those counts "without prejudice". They are now being pursued in a separate investigation.

A Public Prosecution Service representative told Banbridge Court last Thursday Ross would be interviewed about matters other than murder in the coming days.

It is understood those matters are the claims of indecent assault, gross indecency and indecently assaulting a child. Detectives questioned him about the separate allegations yesterday.

A police spokesman said a 66-year-old had "been interviewed about other matters that have arisen from the investigation he has been charged with".

He also confirmed inquiries are ongoing into the death of another woman in the town.

Ross strongly denies all of the charges he faces.

The stonemason, from Dromore, Co Down, was told in March he faced prosecution over the death of mother-of-one Lily McKee (52), from the same town, in 2002.

Last year the 66-year-old was charged and remanded in custody in connection with the murders of former partners Michelle Bickerstaff (47) and Margaret Weise (50) in Dromore.

Ms Bickerstaff, a mother-of-four, was found dead in April 2012, while Ms Weise's body was discovered in August 2007.

Ms Bickerstaff died in hospital after being discovered unconscious by her daughter in the house she shared with Ross.

Police then launched a probe into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ms Weise.

Ms Weise, who was registered blind and suffered from alcohol dependency and depression, had been in an on-off relationship with the accused.

Ross previously claimed he was wakened by the sound of a thump and found her at the bottom of stairs. He said put her back to bed and called a doctor when she failed to wake up. She later died without regaining consciousness.

After he was charged with the first two murders, lawyers for Ross argued that fatal head injuries suffered by the women could have been caused by alcohol-related falls and not violence.

Detectives investigating the three alleged murders in Dromore are also probing the circumstances of another woman's death in the town.

Margaret Stronge (58), who was known as Peggy, was found dead in Moss Lane in July, 1982.

Ross will find out next month if he will stand trial for the three alleged murders.

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