Those who knew the man arrested in Dromore yesterday described him as a “brilliant” stonemason who was reportedly responsible for building the intricate high stone wall around the town’s police station, writes Philip Bradfield.
Local sources said Leslie Ross was originally from Castlewellan and that his family had owned a pub there which was firebombed by the IRA in the 1980s.
He had been married in his younger years, locals said, with his wife later going to live in England and his only child, a son, said to have left Dromore to join the Navy some 25 years ago.
Coming from a family of publicans, his parents – described locally as “lovely people” – once owned a pub in the town called the Horseman Inn but referred to locally as Ross’s.
The pub was later knocked down and his father Jim was said to have taken his wife to Rathlin Island to live.
Today in Dromore there is just a gap in the shopfronts where the pub used to be.
The pub did great trade in the late 1970s and early 1980s and was a popular spot for local darts and pool competitions – games in which Mr Ross was an enthusiastic participant. In those years he also worked in the pub along with his wife.
He is described as being around 5ft 10in with broad rugged shoulders attributed to years of hard graft as a stonemason and a strong appetite for local butcher’s produce.
“In his youth he had a good head of wavy dark hair but these days it has gone pure white,” one local said.
“Everyone in Dromore knew him,” said another, adding that he would have been a regular visitor to the several pubs in the town.
One source said that police yesterday removed boxes of materials from his house in Meganlis Park, a pebble-dashed former Housing Executive terrace on one of the hills overlooking the town square.
Neighbours said there were few visitors and that the interior was unremarkable.
One local said he was a “brilliant” stonemason and that he still runs a masonry company.