Belfast Telegraph

Sex charges against suspected killer Leslie Ross voided month after death

By Michael Donnelly

Sex charges against a 70-year-old Northern Ireland pensioner labelled - but never convicted of being - a serial killer, have been declared void a month after his death.

Co Down stonemason Leslie Ross had been on trial at Newry Crown Court on 44 charges of rape and sexual assault when he fell ill in the dock and the case was aborted in October.

Following his death from cancer, a two-year publicity ban was also finally lifted.

However, it can now be revealed that in addition to the catalogue of sex offences he was on trial for, Ross was to have faced a second trial on unrelated sex offences. Neither trial - the first involving his daughter Julie and a niece Debbie Ross, who both waived their right to anonymity, and the second involving allegations made by a schoolboy -could be reported because of the reporting ban.

Yesterday his former defence QC Charles McKay handed in formal proof by way of a death certificate to Judge Melody McReynolds, and applied that there be "no further trials".

Judge McReynolds said, on receipt of the death certificate, "it is ordered that the indictments should be endorsed 'defendant deceased' and be declared now of no legal effect and that the file be closed unless and until the court, on cause being shown, otherwise orders".

The reporting banning order was initially imposed in September 2015 when the first of three murder trials involving Ross, of Mengalis Road, Dromore, was aborted following a week of legal arguments.

However, by March the following year all the murder trials were either aborted for legal reasons, or 'not guilty' verdicts directed by the trial judges. Notwithstanding his murder acquittals, after Ross lost his battle with cancer, family members of his alleged victims came forward saying the stonemason may have escaped justice in this world, but would not in the next.

They also maintained that their loved ones perished at the hands of the Co Down man, who was described as evil and manipulative.

Following the collapse of Ross's latest trial - where he was accused of a total of 44 sex charges, some dating back over 45 years, included rape, attempted rape and buggery - two of his victims also spoke out, detailing the sexual abuse they endured at his hands.

The funeral for the 70-year-old pensioner was held at Roselawn in Belfast last month.

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