Co Down woman tells of abuse at the hands of "monster" uncle who was once accused of being a serial killer
THE niece of a Co Down man who was once accused of being a serial killer has told of how the 70-year-old "absolute monster" abused her as a child.
Dr Debbie Ross, who is originally from Co Down but now lives in the US, said she had taken the decision to reveal what her uncle, Leslie Ross, had subjected her to in the hope it would help other victims to speak out.
The 54 year-old mother-of-four said she was "terrified" of her uncle, who died from cancer earlier this month before he was able to stand trial for 44 charges of sex abuse.
The trial against the pensioner, who was from Dromore, was stopped after he collapsed in the dock in Newry. He was later found dead in his flat in Newtownards on November 8.
The Co Down man had formerly been accused of murdering two ex-girlfriends five years apart.
However, the stonemason was later found not guilty of murdering Margaret Weise (50) and Michelle Bickerstaff (47).
He had also been charged with the murder of a third former girlfriend, Lily McKee (52), but that case never went to full trial.
Weeks on from her uncle's death, Dr Debbie Ross has spoken out about the abuse she suffered as a child at his hands.
Speaking to BBC NI, Dr Ross, who now lives in New York state, said her uncle was "an absolute monster to have done what he did to me".
"I was very afraid of him. You were just terrified of him.
"When he moved from grooming me to the more serious abuse, then I became a victim of his aggression," she said.
"His general demeanour was one of a very violent man. He used to have a piece of wood that was two (inches) by two with nails sticking out of it. You could see that people were afraid of him."
Dr Ross, who emigrated to the US in 2005 where she now works as a senior research scientist, said she was abused by her uncle between 1969 and 1973.
"I went from childhood to a complete loss of innocence with an adult," she said.
"Growing up, I felt as if I came from another planet. I did not consider myself being worth anything. I acted out badly and I did not trust any men."
Dr Ross added: "I am disappointed that the court case did not happen, and that this did not get a chance to end the way it should have ended. But speaking (about it) is the next best thing I can do to encourage people who have suffered this abuse, even if it is historical. Do it for yourself, do it for your daughters and grand-daughters. Speak up".