Thursday, 1 December 2016

The Tragedy of Stefan Kiszko

OVER 40-years ago a serious miscarriage of justice occurred in Rochdale.  Stefan Ivan Kiszko, a 23-year-old local tax clerk of Ukrainian/Slovenian parentage, served 16 years in prison after he was wrongly convicted of her sexual assault and murder.  His ordeal was described by one MP as 'the worst miscarriage of justice of all time'.  Kiszko was released in 1992 after forensic evidence showed that he could not have committed the murder.  He died in December 1993.  Ronald Castree (born 18 October 1953 in Littleborough, Lancashire) was found guilty of the crime on 12 November 2007.

Stefan Kiszko: When Even Angels Cry
AS September had just given way to October in 1975 in Britain, a young girl by the name of Lesley Molseed volunteered herself to go fetch bread for the family. In the cool air of England in autumn, her curly brunette locks bounced about as she worked her way towards a local bakery. Before she arrived there, she was snatched up by a man and whisked away to a steep hill known as Rishworth Moor. Once there, she was tossed in the grass, where she landed on her chest and she was viciously stabbed 12 times in her upper shoulders and back. Once dead, the killer lifted up her dress, exposed her underwear and ejaculated onto her undergarments. She was just 11. 
Once she was reported missing, an outcry for the discovery of her body erupted in her hometown of Rochdale. After three fruitless days, the police found her body on Rishworth Moor, decaying next to her blue linen backpack emblazoned with the symbol of Tweetie Bird. The public immediately called for the terrible, swift sword of vengeance in light of her murder. This lust for justice led authorities to man named Stefan Kiszko. 
Eerily reminiscent of the Salem Witch Trials in the United States, a gang of pre-pubescent girls had claimed that Kiszko had exposed himself to them – they would admit, years later, they had completely fabricated their claims.  When police followed up on the girl’s claims, they thought this man perfectly fit their profile of a man who would kill and masturbate over a girl.

Stefan Kiszko was a 24 year-old tax clerk of Eastern European heritage.  He was a large man, known for his kindness and social ineptitude.  It would later be revealed that he suffered from hypogonadism, or in other words, his testes were severely underdeveloped and he never underwent full puberty.  As such, he was literally a boy in a man’s body. Due to this, he lived with his mother and aunt in Rochdale.  Just before Molseed’s murder, Kiszko’s doctor had prescribed him shots of testosterone to treat his hypogonadism.  As expected, this lead Kiszko to develop sexual thoughts for the first time.  When he was apprehended by police, the police found 'girlie mags' and bags of candy in his car, which confirmed suspicions of him being a sexual deviant and a pedophile.

Upon his arrest, he was taken to the local police station.  Over the course of three days, Kiszko was subject to intense and grueling interrogations in which the police investigators pounced on every inconsistent statement Kiszko made.  At the time, suspects did not have the right to an attorney to be present during questioning; repeated pleas for the presence of his mother were ignored. Eventually, Kiszko confessed to the murder, with the erroneous belief that he would be released to his home and subsequent police inquiries would prove his innocence.

They didn’t.  He was never released back to this home.  Most damningly, his legal defense was woefully inadequate.  His lawyers never presented evidence that he had broken his ankle the summer before the murder and, given his weight, could not have scaled the hill upon which Lesley Molseed was killed.  Further, the semen samples taken from Kiszko contained no sperm while the semen recovered from Molseed’s body indeed contained sperm.  Despite all this easily verifiable proof of his innocence, Kiszko’s legal team sought to reduce the charge to manslaughter on the theory he did, in fact, commit the murder, but due to his testosterone treatments, was operating under diminished capacity.  His doctor, if he had even been called to testify, would not have agreed with that theory.  Testosterone doesn’t cause men to act like mindless beasts. 

Regardless of all this, Kiszko was convicted and sentenced to life.  The judge praised the verdict, noting the excellent nature of the police and investigatory processes, the adeptness of the prosecution and the sheer bravery of the young girls to come forward with their story. In the mind of the justice system and the hearts of the people of Rochdale, justice had been served. 

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