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Man remanded on murder charges

A stonemason has appeared in court in Northern Ireland charged with the murders of two former girlfriends.

Leslie Ross, from Magenlis Park in Dromore, Co Down, was remanded in custody by a district judge in Armagh city.

The 66-year-old is accused of the murders of Michelle Bickerstaff, 47, and 50-year-old Margaret Weise.

He also faces other charges including indecent assault and committing an act of gross indecency with a child. Ross confirmed that he understood the charges against him.

Defence solicitor Conleth Downey told the court his client denies all the allegations and will be making an application for bail at a later date. Mr Downey said: "During three days of questioning my client robustly and vehemently denied the charges."

Mr Downey also told the sitting at Armagh Magistrates' Court the defendant's home had been attacked as a result of the high-profile case.

PSNI Detective Sergeant Mark Gibson, who said he was closely involved with the case, told the court he believed he could connect Ross to the charges. Ross showed no emotion as the charges were put to him.

Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes remanded Ross in custody to appear again via videolink next month.

Outside the courthouse Ross's lawyer said he would be strongly contesting the charges. He said: "In essence Mr Ross has indicated that he categorically and vehemently denies all allegations of wrongdoing. That has been pointed out to the court this morning and at the earliest opportunity he will robustly defend all matters."

Ross is due to appear at Banbridge Magistrates' Court on September 19.

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