Exclusive: How key witness in Sheffield shooting trial turned gunman himself

Nathan Marples and the Esso petrol station on Wordsworth Avenue, Parson Cross
Nathan Marples and the Esso petrol station on Wordsworth Avenue, Parson Cross

A key witness in a Sheffield shooting trial turned gunman himself as he fired a shotgun at a teenager on city petrol station forecourt.

A key witness in a Sheffield shooting trial turned gunman himself as he fired a shotgun at a teenager on city petrol station forecourt.

The Esso petrol station on Wordsworth Avenue where the shooting took place

The Esso petrol station on Wordsworth Avenue where the shooting took place

Nathan Marples, 25, has been jailed for six years after admitting shooting 19-year-old Lewis Hopkinson at an Esso garage on Wordsworth Avenue, Parson Cross on July 22 - just hours after a jury had cleared a man, named Gavin Bennett, who Marples had said was involved in an attempted murder bid on Penistone Road in January.

Sheffield Crown Court heard Marples believed Mr Hopkinson was associated with Mr Bennett and had been fearing 'retribution' because of his evidence he gave in the previous trial.

The victim suffered serious gunshot injuries to his stomach, chest and arm and has had further medical complications since, including pellets lodged in his upper abdomen.

His Honour Judge Julian Goose QC said: "This incident would have been capable to cause death if fired at a vulnerable part of the body at point blank range."

Marples was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court

Marples was sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court

The court heard after being struck by the shot, the complainant ran away and Marples shouted 'you will run, I will f****** shoot you'.

Ian Goldsack prosecuting said Marples, a back seat passenger in a Black Seat Leon, got out of the car at around 11.30pm and shouted across the forecourt 'you all right boys'.

"Mr Hopkinson asked him if he smashed his car up two or three weeks ago. It was not said in a confrontational way, it was a question.

"It came apparent the defendant was holding a shotgun at him from about ten paces away, lowered the weapon then raised it again.

"There was a big flash and the complainant initially didn't feel any pain but then looked down and saw blood from his stomach."

The court was told the complainant was later taken to the Northern General Hospital for treatment and Marples was arrested at 10am the next morning wearing a change of clothes.

In a victim impact statement read out by Mr Goldsack, Mr Hopkinson said the incident had affected him physically and mentally.

"I was in shock at what had happened and I am petrified by it.

"I never asked for these injuries, I didn't cause any trouble and I don't why this happened. I'm scared to leave the house."

The court heard Mr Hopkinson had 'hid in a garden' the day after he got out of hospital because he believed someone was following him.

Francis Edusei, defending, said Marples had carried out a 'public duty' in giving evidence and came under intense pressure with threats and intimidation.

Mr Edusei said the police were 'concerned' about Marples and were in the process of moving his family. The barrister added the 25-year-old had no previous convictions prior to this incident.

Sentencing Marples, Judge Goose QC said the incident was 'extremely serious'.

"Because of the evidence you gave, you came under threats and intimidation and the prosecution accept that this was the case to you and your family causing you anxiety.

"But rather than go to the police, you took it into your own hands to carry out a highly dangerous and violent revenge attack.

"Your reaction was was highly dangerous and could've led to more serious circumstances."

Marples, of Worsdworth Avenue, Parson Cross, admitted grievous bodily harm and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence at a previous hearing.

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