Man not guilty of part in Sheffield murder bid

Police close the city centre bound side of the A61 at the junction with Leppings Lane
Police close the city centre bound side of the A61 at the junction with Leppings Lane
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A man accused of being part of an attempted murder bid along busy Sheffield roads has been found not guilty by a jury in less than two hours.

Gavin Bennett was cleared of attempted murder and an alternative charge of wounding with intent in connection with a shooting in January this year.

Jamie Howden was shot in the leg after the Seat Leon in which he was a passenger was chased by two gunmen in a VW Golf along Southey Green Road, Halifax Road and Penistone Road on January 20 at around 2pm.

Bennett, aged 35 and of Maun Way, Firth Park, was accused of being the driver of the VW Golf after being identified by Nathan Marples, who was the driver of the Seat Leon Mr Howden had been in.

The court was told earlier this week Mr Howden was believed to have a bounty on his head at the time of the Penistone Road incident.

Christopher Dunn, representing Bennett, told the jury before their deliberations that there had been further shootings involving Mr Howden this month that the prosecution accepted his client could not have been involved in.

He said: “There have been two shootings on July 14, 2016 and one on July 15, 2016 where Jamie ‘Jim Bob’ Howden was involved in circumstances where the prosecution acknowledge the defendant could not have been the shooter or the driver.”

Bennett declined to give evidence in his defence during the trial, but in a police interview from January that was read to the jury he said he had been in bed at the time of the incident.

He said he had been suffering from depression which is why he had been going to bed in the afternoon.

The jury retired to consider their verdicts in the case on Thursday afternoon and returned their verdict within two hours.

The court heard on Wednesday that the VW Golf was found burnt out in Parson Cross shortly after the incident and police had been unable to obtain any forensic evidence from it.

The jury were told there was no DNA, fingerprint or phone evidence against Bennett.