Dromore man in court on murder charges

Dromore stonemason Leslie Ross is to appear in court next month after he was charged with the murders of Michelle Bickerstaff and Margaret Weise.

Leslie Ross, from Magenlis Park in the town, was remanded in custody after bail was refused by a district judge in Armagh city.

The 66-year-old is accused of the murders of Michelle Bickerstaff, 47, and Margaret Weise, 50.

He also faces other charges including indecent assault and committing an act of gross indecency with a child.

Ross confirmed that he understood the charges against him.

Defence solicitor Conleth Downey told the court his client denies all the allegations and will be making an application for bail at a later date.

Mr Downey said, “During three days of questioning my client robustly and vehemently denied the charges.”

Mr Downey also told the sitting at Armagh Magistrates’ Court the defendant’s home had been attacked as a result of the high profile case.

PSNI Detective Sergeant Mark Gibson, who said he was closely involved with the case, told the court he believed he could connect Ross to the charges.

no emotion

Ross showed no emotion as the charges were put to him.

He was dressed in a black jacket and jeans and appeared tired and drawn.

Deputy District Judge Chris Holmes remanded Ross in custody to appear again via videolink next month.

As he was led out of the dock flanked by two prison guards, Ross glanced at relatives of his alleged victims who had packed the public gallery of courtroom number two.

Outside the courthouse Ross’s lawyer said he would be strongly contesting the charges.

He said: “In essence Mr Ross has indicated that he categorically and vehemently denies all allegations of wrongdoing. That has been pointed out to the court this morning and at the earliest opportunity he will robustly defend all matters.”

Ross is due to appear at Banbridge Magistrates’ Court on September 19. The police say a file surrounding the circumstances of the death of Elizabeth McKee has been sent to the PPS.