Why did an innocent man spend 22 years in jail for a murder he didn't commit, while the real murderer remained at large? Possibly Britain's worst miscarriage of justice, the conviction of Stefan Kiszko created heartbreak for both his family and that of the girl he was falsely convicted of murdering.
The identity of 11 year old Lesley Molseed's murderer was not ascertained until 22 years after her body was found near Rishworth Moor. But for 16 of those 22 years, an innocent man slept behind bars for the crime. The victim of what is often described as Britain's worst miscarriage of justice, Stefan Kiszko, lived for barely a year following the overturning of his conviction and never got to see the conviction of the real killer in 2007.
Shockingly, the evidence that proved his innocence was known to the police at the time of his conviction. As a sufferer of hypogonadism, Kiszko could never produce the sperm heads that were found in the ejaculate on Lesley's clothing. Nonetheless, Kiszko was found guilty on the strength of a confession made after hours of questioning and without a solictor being present. Other alleged pieces of 'evidence' brought against Kiszko included his idiosyncratic hobby of writing down the registration numbers of cars he saw and allegations made by four local girls that he had exposed himself to them. Only after his conviction was quashed would the girls admit to having falsely concocted the claims - but even though would not apologise to him.
Despite the flimsy nature of the case against him, even his own barrister believed him to be the killer - deciding that Kiszko had probably killed Lesley, but was only guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility. His idiosyncracies and perpetually bemused air were enough for supposedly rational minds to conclude that he was mentally unsound. During his incarceration - particularly at Wakefield Prison - he was bullied by other prisoners and ultimately developed schizophrenia due to the treatment he received.
Among those who came in for criticism was one of the chief detectives on the case - Dick Holland. In 1994 charges were brought against him and another officer, Jack Dibb for suppression of evidence, but were dropped when Dibb died. This of some pertinence to those who believed that Peter Sutcliffe's confessions were used by detectives to clear up unsolved murders on his arrest as Holland was the officer who took Sutcliffe's confession. Perhaps tellingly, Holland was also involved in the case of Judith Ward, the mentally ill woman who 'confessed' to the M62 coach bombing of 1974.
If there were any remaining doubts about Kiszko's innocence (Holland seems to have been among those steadfast in their certain belief of Kiszko's guilt) they were dispelled when DNA evidence conclusively proved that Ronald Castree - a taxi driver living near Lesley's home at the time of her murder - had been the true perpetrator of this horrible crime. By the time of his conviction in 2007, Kiszko had been dead for almost 15 years and the apology eventually offered by West Yorkshire Police was of little meaning.