‘We wanted to make sure it was him in the coffin’

Leslie Ross
Leslie Ross

Relatives of one of the three women Dromore man Leslie Ross had been charged with murdering have attended his funeral in Belfast.

In 2014 Leslie Ross of Dromore, Co Down, was charged with the murders of three former girlfriends, Michelle Bickerstaff , Margaret Weise and Elizabeth ‘Lily’ McKee.

However a judge found that Ms McKee had such a high level of alcohol in her blood that he could not return Ross for trial.

At around this time, a publicity ban was put in place in relation to the case.

Then after numerous trials, Ross was also acquitted of the two other murders, his defence claiming their deaths could have been caused by alcohol-related falls, not violence.

He was later charged with 44 sex offences, but the trial was stopped after he collapsed in the dock.

One of Michelle Bickerstaff’s sisters, Yvette Sparks, and three of her nieces attended Ross’ funeral at Roselawn Crematorium in Belfast on Monday. He died of cancer.

“We wanted to make sure it was definitely him going in there,” Yvette told the Belfast Telegraph.

“We needed to see this for ourselves. At least that’s him gone for good now. That’s it over. But nobody got justice. He got off very lightly.”

Those inside the crematorium heard the cleric – who later reportedly said he was unaware of Ross’s past – try to comfort mourners with uplifting aspects of his life and a summary of his interests.

Ross started seeing Michelle Bickerstaff in 2008.

Although initially charming, his violent tendencies soon became apparent and he plied her with alcohol, the Bickerstaff family said.

Mrs Bickerstaff’s mother, Dorothy Sparks, claimed Ross had subjected her daughter to regular beatings.