Police charge man over deaths of two women in Co Down

Public Prosecution Service to review all charges in the case, according to PSNI

Dromore, Co Down, where the suspect and the 
two women were from. One woman died last year following a head injury. 
Photograph: Justin Kernoghan

Dromore, Co Down, where the suspect and the two women were from. One woman died last year following a head injury. Photograph: Justin Kernoghan

Fri, Aug 23, 2013, 08:33

Detectives in the PSNI’s serious crime branch have charged a 66-year-old man in Dromore, Co Down with the murder of two women.

He is due to appear in Armagh Magistrates Court this morning.

Leslie Ross (66), from Dromore, Co Down, was arrested on Tuesday morning and had been questioned in relation to the deaths of the women.

Last night the PSNI said Mr Ross had been charged with the murder of 47-year-old Michelle Bickerstaff in April of last year and the murder of 50-year-old Margaret Weise in August 2007.

He was also charged with other serious offences.

In a statement, the PSNI said that all charges would be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr Ross was being questioned in an Antrim police station as part of efforts to establish if the injuries the women died from were as a result of assaults.


Head injury
Michelle Bickerstaff died in April 2012 after being admitted to hospital with a head injury. Margaret Weise died in August 2007. Mr Ross was arrested previously, in the aftermath of Ms Bickerstaff’s death.

While he was released without charge on that occasion, the investigation has continued and the case of Ms Weise was also reviewed.

That re-examination and interviews with a large number of people known to the suspect and the dead women have progressed the investigation to the stage where Mr Ross was rearrested.

He was detained by officers who called to his home in the Barban Hill area, a quiet residential spot on the south side of Dromore.

The neighbourhood features a mixture of private housing and some local authority houses and flats.

Mr Ross was previously married but separated from his wife about 20 years ago, according to local sources.

The same people said they believed he had at least one child but that he had not kept in touch with family members for many years.

The women who died had also separated from former partners and also had a number of children.

Ms Bickerstaff had four children. Ms Weise had been married twice and had two children.

Both women were also from Dromore where Mr Ross had been arrested at a flat in the area.

The PSNI said earlier yesterday the investigating team was keen to speak to anyone who may have known the women at about the times of their deaths or may have information that could help the inquiry.