Belfast Telegraph

Leslie Ross's niece tells of abuse at hands of 'monster' uncle

A woman whose late uncle was accused of being a serial killer has waived her right to anonymity to tell of how she was abused by him as a child in Co Down.

Stonemason Leslie Ross from Dromore died earlier this month on the day he had been due to appear before the courts on a string of sex abuse charges.

He had been facing 44 charges of sex abuse at a trial in Newry before he passed away.

The BBC reports his trial was stopped after he collapsed in the dock.

In January 2016 a jury was directed to acquit Ross of Michelle Bickerstaff's murder when the prosecution offered no further evidence. Two months later he went on trial for the 2007 murder of Margaret Weiss (50).

But within weeks he was acquitted again after Mr Justice Burgess directed the jury to find him not guilty. Ross had also been charged with the murder of a third ex-girlfriend.

Deborah Ross, who is now based in America, where she works as a senior research scientist called him a "monster".

Speaking to BBC NI Dr Ross (54) said the abuse happened between 1969  and 1973 at a pub owned by her grandparents in Castlewellan.

She said: "I went from childhood to a complete loss of innocence with an adult. It was put to me that this (abuse) was Uncle Leslie teaching me, that this was something that I needed to know and that he had been assigned to teach me."

"Growing up I felt as if I came from another planet. I did not consider myself being worth anything. I acted out badly and I did not trust any men."

Dr Ross continued: "He was an absolute monster to have done what he did to me. I was very afraid of him. You were just terrified of him.

"His general demeanour was one of a very violent man. He used to have a piece of wood that was two (inches) by two with nails sticking out of it. You could see that people were afraid of him."

After his death the PSNI told her in a memo that if the case had happened they believe he would have been convicted.

The note said: "I regret that we never did have our day in court. I know in my heart we would have secured a prosecution in this case.

"I just hope that now, you can ...find some sort of closure to this awful chapter."

Dr Ross contacted the PSNI and made the complaints that led to the sex abuse case after she saw the media coverage about him being charged with the murders.

She said she was "relieved" when she heard he had passed away but expressed "disappointment" that the case didn't happen.

"I am disappointed that the court case did not happen, and that this did not get a chance to end the way it should have ended.

"But speaking (about it) is the next best thing I can do to encourage people who have suffered this abuse, even if it is historical. Do it for yourself, do it for your daughters and grand-daughters. Speak up."

She added: "At least he can't do it to anyone else and that was my main goal."

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