Court proceedings against Leslie Ross officially dismissed following his death last month

Court proceedings against Co Down man Leslie Ross were officially dismissed today following his death last month

A JUDGE has told Newry Crown Court that she hoped the "level of closure" from the dismissal of sex charges against a Co Down stonemason "brings some solace" to those concerned in the case.

A month after his death Newry Crown Court heard that sex charges against Leslie Ross (70), of Mengalis Road in Dromore, would be declared void.

Ross, who was once suspected of being Northern Ireland's first serial killer, had been accused of a catalogue of sex offences.

But the court was told today that Ross had died on November 8.

Ross died at his flat in Newtownards, Co Down, from cancer.

The hearing was told that Ross had been "certified fit for trial....but his health deteriorated quite visibly". He had been facing 44 charges of sex abuse at a trial in Newry before he died.

His trial was stopped after he collapsed in the dock and the case against him could not be concluded.

In 2015, Ross was accused of murdering three of his former girlfriends.

However last January a jury was directed to acquit him of Michelle Bickerstaff's murder when the prosecution offered no further evidence.

Two months later he went on trial for the murder of Margaret Weise, a registered blind person.

But within weeks he was acquitted again after the judge directed the jury to find him not guilty.

Ross had also been charged with the murder of a third ex-girlfriend.

Lily McKee (52) died in December 2002, but the case never made it to trial due to a lack of evidence.

Newry Crown Court today heard that a death certificate could be provided in evidence so that the "file is closed".

Defence QC Charles McKay told the court: "I can assure you that there will no other trial".

Judge McReynolds said she "would like to thank everyone for working extremely diligently in this case".

She added: "I hope that the level of closure today brings some solace to everyone concerned".

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