Killer paedophile found strangled in his prison cell – Leslie Bailey
Times, The (London, England)-October 9, 1993
Author: Stewart Tendler and Richard Ford

INMATES at a top security prison were being questioned last night after a paedophile who was part of a ring that abused and killed three boys was found strangled in his cell.

Leslie Bailey, 40, was serving two life sentences for his role in the deaths of Jason Swift, 14, Barry Lewis, 6, and Mark Tildesley, 7. He was found in his ground-floor cell at Whitemoor prison near March, Cambridgeshire, on Thursday night when officers made their lock-up checks. A makeshift ligature used to throttle him was found in the cell, where his body lay on the bed. There were no signs of a struggle.

Bailey, from Hackney, east London, had been threatened during his time in prison. At Whitemoor, where he was sent last year, he was on a wing reserved for vulnerable prisoners.

Yesterday Det Supt Bob Wordsworth, investigating the death, said: “We are questioning staff and inmates to try to ascertain when he was last seen alive. The possibility of a self-inflicted injury has not been ruled out. I am keeping an extremely open mind about this.”

Asked if he felt Bailey’s death was a case of rough justice, Mr Wordsworth said: “In my view no one has the right to kill anyone.”

Yesterday Mark Tildesley’s father John said that if Bailey had been murdered he would congratulate the killer. “A life for a life, as it says in the Bible that’s the way it should be,” he said. “We wanted capital punishment for him anyway.”

Andrew Barclay, the prison governor, said that Bailey was on his own in a cell during evening association time. Inmates were allowed in and out of the cells. During the past few months he had appeared to be settled but the prison would try to find out whether he had shown suicidal or depressive signs.

Bailey, who was educationally subnormal, was jailed for 15 years in 1989 for trying to choke Jason, a runaway and rent boy who was lured to an orgy at an east London flat in 1985. He was also found guilty of trying to pervert the course of justice by disposing of the child’s body. Jason, who had been plied with a muscle relaxant, suffocated while being held down as four men assaulted him. His body was wrapped in a blanket and left under a bush.

In 1991 Bailey was given a life sentence for his part in the murder of Barry, who vanished from the streets where he was playing in south London. The boy was drugged, stripped and assaulted in an orgy. The men thought he was dead and Bailey was sent to bury him. But he was not dead and when he began to stir, Bailey strangled him and buried his body in a shallow grave.

At the trial Judge Neil Denison told him: “Anyone who listened to what you and others did to this six-year-old child before his death can only have one reaction a combination of sickness, horror and indeed despair that any human being can sink to these depths.”

Last year Bailey received a second life sentence for his part in the killing of Mark Tildesley, who was kidnapped from a fairground near Wokingham, Berkshire. He confessed to his involvement and named two other men but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them because of Bailey’s high level of suggestibility.

He was convicted for his part in the first of the killings after an investigation into the paedophile ring code-named Operation Orchid. Yesterday former Det Chief Supt Roger Stoodley, who led the investigation, said: “Should I feel sorry for him? I can’t be sorry that he’s dead after what he did to children all his life. But in some ways I had respect for him because he was the only one with the guts to stand up and admit what he had done that was more than the others could do.

“I suppose there should be some compassion for him. Most child abusers have been victims themselves and are simply repeating what has been done to them.”

Another senior detective said that Bailey, a former rent boy, was not the most evil member of the ring. He was a “gofer” who often did the bidding of others.

Bailey was jailed for five years in 1979 for a serious sexual assault on a woman. He worked from time to time as a labourer and a security officer and was nicknamed “Catweazle” because of his unkempt appearance.