Whilst the hunt was underway, three teenage girls claimed that Stefan Kiszko had indecently exposed himself to them the day before Lesley Molseed was murdered. One of them also said that he had exposed himself to her a month after the murder, on Bonfire night and had been stalking her for some time previous to that. West Yorkshire Police quickly formed the view that Kiszko fitted the profile of the person likely to have killed Lesley Molseed even though he had never been in trouble with the law and had no social life beyond his mother and aunt. Kiszko also had an unusual hobby of writing down registration numbers of cars that annoyed him, which led the police to believe that he was a likely suspect. The police now pursued evidence which might incriminate him, and ignored other leads that might have taken them in other directions.
Acting on the teenage girls' information and his idiosyncratic hobby, along with the fact that the police allegedly found pornographic magazines and a bag of sweets in Kiszko's car, they arrested him on 21 December 1975. During the questioning, the police seized on any inconsistencies between his various accounts of the relevant days as further demonstration of his guilt. Kiszko confessed to the crime after two days of questioning. The police did not tell him of his right to have a solicitor present. When he asked if he could have his mother present when he was being questioned, they refused to grant him this request and did not caution him until well after they had decided he was the prime suspect. After pleading guilty, Kiszko was charged with Molseed's murder. When he entered Armley Jail on Christmas Eve, 1975, he was nicknamed "Oliver Laurel" because he had the girth of Oliver Hardy and the perplexed air of Oliver's comedy sidekick Stan Laurel.
Kiszko remained there until his murder trial, which began on 7 July 1976. He was defended by David Waddington QC, who later became Home Secretary in October 1989. The prosecuting QC, Peter Taylor, went on to become Lord Chief Justice, by coincidence the day after Kiszko was cleared of the murder in 1992. Taylor was most noted for his reports into the Hillsborough Disaster at the Sheffield Wednesday FC football stadium at Hillsborough, Sheffield.
Kiszko's defence team made significant mistakes. Firstly, they did not seek an adjournment when the Crown delivered thousands of pages of additional unused material on the first morning of the trial.
Then there was the inconsistent defence of diminished responsibility which Kiszko never authorised, on the grounds that the testosterone he was receiving for his hypogonadism might have made him behave unusually. Kiszko's endocrinologist, if called, would have said that his treatment could not have caused him to act such a way that would make him carry out murder. He was never called.
The manslaughter claim undermined Kiszko's claims that he was totally innocent and destroyed his alibis (a defence known in legal parlance as 'riding two horses'). In fact, his innocence could have been demonstrated at the trial. The pathologist who examined Molseed's clothes found traces of sperm, whereas the semen sample taken from Kiszko by the police contained no sperm. There was medical evidence that Kiszko had broken his ankle some months before the murder and, in view of that and his being overweight, he would have found it difficult to scale the slope to the murder spot. The sperm findings were suppressed by the police and never disclosed to the defence team or the jury: The medical evidence of his broken ankle was not disclosed either to the court.
At the trial, Kiszko said that in July 1975 he had had become ill and had been admitted to Birch Hill Hospital, where he was given a blood transfusion. In August he was transferred to a Manchester hospital and diagnosed as being anaemic and having a hormone deficiency. He agreed to injections to rectify the latter problems and was discharged in September 1975. He said correctly that he had never met Molseed and therefore could never have murdered her and claimed he was with his Aunt tending to his father's grave in Halifax at the time of the murder before visiting a garden centre and then going home. His denials of murder were not believed by the jury, nor were his claims that the confession was bullied out of him by the police. When asked why he had confessed, Kiszko replied that "I started to tell these lies and they seemed to please them and the pressure was off as far as I was concerned. I thought if I admitted what I did to the police they would check out what I had said, find it untrue and would then let me go".
His conviction was secured by a 10-2 majority jury verdict on 21 July 1976 at Leeds Crown Court after five hours and 35 minutes deliberation. He was given a life sentence for committing Molseed's murder. Mr (Later Sir) Hugh Park told Kiszko that he would serve life in prison and then praised the teenage girls, who made the exposure claims for their "bravery and honesty" and "sharp observations". He also praised the police officers involved in the case "..for their great skill in bringing to justice the person responsible for this dreadful crime and their expertise in sifting through masses of material" and said that "I would like all the officers responsible for the result to be specially commended and these observations conveyed to the Chief Constable". Sheila Buckley, whose daughter Maxine played a major part in securing Kiszko's conviction, attacked the police for not arresting him earlier and told the Manchester Evening News that "Children are a lot safer now this monster has been put away".. She demanded Kiszko's execution. Even Albert Wright, Kiszko's solicitor, thought that his client was guilty, but that this was a case of diminished responsibility, and Kiszko should not have been convicted outright of murder.
After a month in Armley prison, Kiszko was transferred to Wakefield Prison and immediately placed on Rule 43 to protect him from other inmates as in the eyes of the law he was now a convicted sex offender. Kiszko launched an appeal, but it was thrown out on May 25 1978, when Lord Justice Bridge said "We can find no grounds whatsoever to condemn the jury's verdict of murder as in any way unsafe or unsatisfactory".
Kiszko was bitterly detested by most inmates, receiving several taunts and death threats after his conviction, both verbal and written. He was also attacked four times during the first five years of his sentence. The first time was on August 24 1976, just after being transferred to Wakefield prison, when he was set upon by six prisoners who punched and kicked him repeatedly, cutting his mouth and severely injuring his leg. Guards had to pull the prisoners away to prevent further injury. When asked why they did it, the attackers replied that it was for "Lesley and her family". He was then attacked on May 11 1977 by another inmate, who hit him over the head with a mop handle, causing Kiszko to need three stitches to a head wound. The next attack came 19 months later, in December 1978 he was punched once in the face by another prisoner in a random attack, whilst in the prison chapel. In March 1981 he was involved in a fight with another prisoner. This time Kiszko retaliated and the two had to be seperated by guards. They both were given a loss of priveleges for 28 days. Kiszko was never physically attacked again during the remainder of his time in prison as he was better protected, was often in the hospital wing of prisons he was held in, and was placed among less violent offenders.
From 1979 onwards, Kiszko developed schizophrenia whilst in prison and began to suffer from delusions, one being that he was the victim of a plot to incarcerate an innocent tax-office employee so the effects of imprisonment would be tested on him. Over the next 11 years any of Kiszko's claims of innocence were labelled by prisons he was held in as symptoms of his schizophrenic delusions, or because they felt he was in a mental state of denial over the murder. One psychiatrist in prison made a note of Kiszko suffering from "delusions of innocence".
In November 1981 Kiszko was transferred to Gloucester Prison and in April 1983 was told that he would only ever be eligible for parole if he admitted to having carried out the murder. If he continued to deny it, then he would spend the rest of his natural life behind bars, but this made no difference to Kiszko's stance. Thirteen months later, whilst still denying having murdered Lesley Molseed, he was moved to Bristol prison. Such was his mental deterioriation that a month later, in June 1984, it was recommended by a forensic psychiatrist that he should be moved to either Broadmoor, Park Lane, Rampton, or Ashworth Hospitals, but nothing came of it, and six months later, in December 1984 Kiszko was returned to Wakefield prison.
In August 1987 he was transferred again from Wakefield to Grendon Underwood Prison, where in 1988, the Governor tried to persuade Kiszko to enrol on a Sex Offenders' Treatment Programme, in which he would have had to admit having committed the rape and murder. Having done that, he would then discuss what motivated him to do it. Kiszko refused to take part and repeatedly and persisttly refused to "address his offending behaviour" on the grounds that he had done nothing that needed addressing. After this, he was left to languish in Grendon Underwood until May 1989, when he was moved back to Wakefield prison, and finally, on 15 March 1991 Kiszko was transferred to Ashworth Hospital, on Section 47 of the Mental Health Act 1983, after several months of delay, on grounds of his deteriorating mental health.
After eight years of being ignored and stonewalled by both politicians and the legal system, in 1984 Kiszko's mother contacted Justice, the international jurists' organisation which investigates miscarriages of Justice. Three years later, she was also then put in touch with Campbell Malone, who agreed to take a look at the case when it seemed almost certain that Kiszko would never be released.
Malone consulted Philip Clegg, who had been Waddington's junior at the July 1976 trial. Clegg had expressed his own doubts about the confession and conviction at the time, and over the next two years, Clegg and Malone prepared a petition to the Home Secretary. The draft was finally ready to be sent on 26 October 1989. On the same day, by coincidence, a new Home Secretary was announced: David Waddington. Perhaps due to Waddington's delicate position in the matter, sixteen months passed before a police investigation into the conduct of the original trial began. Waddington resigned as Home Secretary in November 1990 to take up a peerage and to serve as Leader of the House of Lords. He was replaced by Kenneth Baker.
In early February 1991 Campbell Malone, with the help of a private detective named Peter Jackson finally urged the Home Office to reopen the case, which was then referred back to the West Yorkshire Police. Detective Superintendent Trevor Wilkinson was assigned to the job. He immediately found several glaring errors. Kiszko's innocence was demonstrated conclusively through medical evidence; he had male hypogonadism, which rendered him infertile, contradicting forensic evidence obtained at the time of the murder. His testes measured 4 to 5 mm in 1975, whereas the average male testicular size was 15 to 20 mm. During his research, Jackson found someone who said correctly that Kiszko was seen tending his father's grave with an Aunt. They said they couldn't understand why they hadn't been called to give evidence at the trial. Someone else said he was in a shop around the time of the murder. Then, the three females involved in the original conviction admitted that the evidence they gave which led to Kiszko's arrest and conviction was false, and that they had lied for "a laugh". They said that Kiszko hadn't exposed himself and hadn't been stalking them, but that they had seen a taxi driver (not Ronald Castree) urinating behind a bush on the day of Molseed's murder. In August 1991, the new findings in Kiszko's case were referred to Kenneth Baker, who immediately passed them on to the Court of Appeal. On 8 January 1992 Kiszko was moved from Ashworth to Prestwich Hospital.
Although he had been told in 1983 that he would only be eligible for parole if he admitted having murdered Lesley Molseed, the Home Office apparently changed their mind, and six years later, in 1989, disclosed that Kiszko's first ever parole hearing would take place in December 1992, when he had served 17 years in custody. However, he didn't have one, as the judicial investigation into Kiszko's conviction began on 17 February 1992. It was heard by three judges, Lord Lane, Mr Justice Rose and Mr Justice Potts. Present at the hearing were Franz Muller QC and William Boyce for the Crown, who were going to argue that Kiszko was still guilty of murder and therefore must remain in prison custody for at least a further ten months, and Stephen Sedley QC and Jim Gregory for Kiszko. However, Muller and Boyce did not put up any contrary argument after hearing the new evidence and immediately accepted its validity.
After hearing the new evidence, Lord Chief Justice Lane said: "It has been shown that this man cannot produce sperm. This man cannot have been the person responsible for ejaculating over the girl's knickers and skirt, and consequently cannot have been the murderer". Kiszko was cleared and Lane ordered his immediate release from prison custody. Anthony Beaumont-Dark, a Conservative MP said, "This must be the worst miscarriage of justice of all time" and, like many others, demanded an a full, independent and wide ranging inquiry into the conviction.
Sir Hugh Park, who had praised the police and the then 13-year-old girls for bringing Kiszko to justice at the trial, apologised for what had happened to Kiszko but he said he wasn't sorry for how he had handled the court case. The Molseed family, who were convinced up to the very moment of Kiszko being cleared that he was Lesley's killer, also publicly apologised for the things they had said after the conviction. Lesley Molseed's father hurled a volley of verbal abuse at Charlotte Kiszko outside the court after her son was convicted of the murder in July 1976. Molseed's father also told the media that he would be outside the prison gates waiting for Kiszko should he be ever released, but in February 1992 he apologised. Kiszko's mother said that it was David Waddington who ought to be strung up for his pro capital punishment views and for the way he handled her son's defence at the 1976 trial.
Despite the now overwhelming and obvious evidence that Kiszko was innocent, the West Yorkshire police and the forensic scientist, Ronald Outteridge, refused point blankedly to apologise to Kiszko for his wrongful conviction. Outteridge, the three then teenage girls and Peter Taylor, who prosecuted him, refused to comment at all, but never at any point, did any of them offer any apologies, nor did Maxine Buckley's mother Sheila. The West Yorkshire Police still tried to justify the position they took in 1975, whilst admitting they were wrong.
Kiszko needed further psychiatric treatment and continued to remain in Prestwich hospital though he was allowed home at weekends and during weekdays. He was finally allowed home fully in November 1992, nine months after being cleared, but the years of incarceration for something he hadn't done had both mentally and emotionally destroyed him. Kiszko became a virtual recluse and showed no interest in anything. Other people's apologies for what had happened, encouragement and support seemed to frighten him on the rare occasions he ventured out. As his mental health deteriorated, so did his physical health as in October 1993 he was diagnosed as suffering from Angina.
Stefan Kiszko died of a massive heart attack, in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, on 23 December 1993, exactly 18 years to the day after he made the confession that led to his wrongful conviction for murder. He was 41 years old. Lesley Molseed's sister was one of those who attended his funeral two weeks later on 5 January 1994. His mother, Charlotte Hedwig Kiszko, died four months later, in Rochdale, on May 3 1994, at the age of 70.
After he was released, Kiszko was told he would receive £500,000 in compensation for the years he spent in prison. He received an interim payment but neither he or his mother got the full amount they were awarded as both died before Kiszko was due to receive it.
A TV film adaptation of the tragic story of Stefan Kiszko was made in 1998, A Life for a Life, directed by Stephen Whittaker and featuring Tony Maudsley as Stefan and Olympia Dukakis as his mother Charlotte.
In 1994 the surviving senior officer in charge of the original investigation Detective Chief Inspector Dick Holland and the forensic scientist who worked on the case Ronald Outteridge (retired), were formally charged with "doing acts tending to pervert the course of justice" by allegedly suppressing evidence against Kiszko, namely the results of scientific tests on semen taken from the victim's body and from the accused. On May Day, 1995 the case was challenged by defence barristers, arguing that the case was an abuse of process and that charges should be stayed as the passage of time had, ironically, made a fair trial impossible. The presiding magistrate agreed and as the case has never appeared before a jury, the law regards the accused as innocent.
DCI Holland, who came to public prominence as a senior officer on the flawed investigation into the murders committed by the Yorkshire Ripper, retired in 1988, at a time when he viewed Kiszko's and Judith Ward's convictions as being among his finest hours during his 35 years in the police force. However, Holland was demoted during the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry four years after Kiszko's conviction. He died in February 2007 at the age of 74.
On Sunday 5 November 2006, it was announced that a 53-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the murder. DNA evidence was alleged to have shown a "direct hit" with a sample found at the scene of the murder. Ronald Castree of Shaw and Crompton, Greater Manchester, was charged with the murder of Lesley Molseed and made his first court appearance on 7 November 2006 where he was remanded in custody.
On 1 October 2005 Castree was arrested for allegedly committing a violent rape against a prostitute in Oldham. When arrested, his DNA was routinely taken. Although apparently innocent of the offence, and later released without charge, the DNA matched that on sperm heads that was left on Lesley Molseed's pants thirty years earlier. At a court hearing on 19 April 2007, Castree pleaded not guilty. On the 23rd of April 2007 he was refused bail. Castree's trial began at Bradford Crown Court on 22nd October 2007. and on the 12th November 2007, Castree was found guilty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 30 years. Ronald Castree was found guilty of Molseed's murder by a 10-2 majority, which coincidentally, was the margin by which Stefan Kiszko was found guilty in 1976.
Outteridge, having not been charged over Kiszko's wrongful conviction, gave evidence at the trial of Castree. Mr Justice Potts, who was one of the judges at Kiszko's appeal in 1992, sentenced Jeffrey Archer to four years imprisonment in 2001 for perjury at his 1987 libel case with the Daily Star.
The West Yorkshire Police finally apologised for Kiszko's wrongful arrest and imprisonment on November 12, 2007, when Detective Chief Superintendent Max McLean said of Kiszko's wrongful imprisonment: "We are very sorry. I think everybody regrets enormously what happened to Stefan Kiszko. It was a dreadful miscarriage of justice. I am so pleased that today we have finally put things right."