Boy, 15, accused of murdering man in Rotherham lay-by was present for attack but did not take part, court told

Craig Preston's body was found by dog walkers near to the Woodhead Tunnels on the morning of August 22 last year.
Craig Preston's body was found by dog walkers near to the Woodhead Tunnels on the morning of August 22 last year.

A 15-year-old boy accused of killing a man in a Rotherham lay-by was only a ‘bit player’ in the murderous plan and was not involved in the attack, a court heard.

Shiraz Bashir, 41, and Leonie Mason, 23, both of Holme Park Court, Huddersfield, along with three teenage boys, are accused of murdering Craig Preston in a lay-by off Town Lane, Rotherham on August 21 last year.

The three boys, who were all aged 15 at the time of the attack, cannot be named because of their age.

During his closing speech at Sheffield Crown Court today, Boy C's barrister, Adrian Waterhouse QC told jurors that the boy was a 'bit player,' a 'Johnny come lately' who had only been recruited to the group of people planning to attack Mr Preston on the evening of the murder.

Mr Waterhouse said that while he acknowledged Boy C was in the lay-by at the time of the fatal attack, no ‘credible’ witness had said they saw Boy C, who opted not to give evidence, attack Mr Preston.

He said: “Even Leonie Mason didn’t have him [Boy C] kicking him did she?”

Mr Waterhouse told the court how evidence from Boy C’s mobile phone signal shows he was one of the first, if not the first, to flee the lay-by following the attack.

Statements previously read into the court record from two of Boy C's headteachers 'painted a similar picture' of the teen, Mr Waterhouse said.

One such statement read: "Boy C is introverted and unassuming."

The court was told how prior to Boy C being recruited to the plan, Boy A had asked other friends to take part who had refused.

One such friend told police that Boy A had asked him whether he wanted get involved with a 'scrap' that was due to happen later that evening. The boy said there was no mention of killing Mr Preston, which is why he had been left 'shocked' when news of Mr Preston's murder reached him.

Mr Waterhouse concluded: "That must have been the sort of thing Boy A must have said in that telephone call to Boy C."

The court was previously told how Mr Preston was involved in a love triangle with Mason and Bashir, which had resulted in a number of altercations.

On one occasion Mr Preston claimed Mason had stabbed him in the neck with a syringe, on another he said Bashir had attacked him with a metal bar at his home in Montgomery Square, Wath-upon-Dearne, Rotherham.

Mason claims she had left Bashir to resume her relationship with Mr Preston at the time of his murder.

Mr Preston's body was found by dog walkers near to the Woodhead Tunnels on the morning of August 22, 2016.

All five defendants deny one count of murder.

The case continues.