Rotherham lay-by murder victim suffered 27 head and neck injuries in attack

Craig Preston was found dead near to the Woodhead Pass by dog walkers on the morning of August 22 last year.
Craig Preston was found dead near to the Woodhead Pass by dog walkers on the morning of August 22 last year.

A 34-year-old man murdered in a Rotherham lay-by suffered 27 injuries to his head and neck in the vicious attack, a court heard.

Neuro-pathologist Dr Daniel DuPlessi told Sheffield Crown Court that the multiple head injuries suffered by Craig Preston caused significant swelling and damage to his brain that he believed would have led to the 34-year-old’s death.

Dr DuPlessi said the bruising and contusions found on Mr Preston’s brain suggested the injuries had been caused by ‘accelerating and decelerating’ force that he agreed would have been consistent with Mr Preston, of Montgomery Square, Wath-upon-Dearne, being kicked in the head multiple times.

Commenting on how long Mr Preston would have lived after suffering the head injuries, Dr DuPlessi told the court: “We can say Mr Preston lived at least half an hour between suffering these injuries and when he died.”

The court heard that Mr Preston's primary cause of death was found to be head injuries.

Mr Preston was found dead by dog walkers at the bottom of a ravine, near to the Woodhead Pass on August 22.

The Crown allege he was murdered in a lay-by in Town Lane, Rotherham a few hours earlier by a group of at least five people including his former partner Leonie Mason, 23, her new 41-year-old boyfriend Shiraz Bashir, both of Holme Parke Court, Huddersfield, and three 15-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Defending Boy C - one of the three teen defendants - Adrian Waterman asked whether Dr DuPlessi whether it was possible that Mr Preston could have suffered the head injury that ultimately ended his life by falling from the top of the ravine he was found near.

He said: "A fall from the ravine is exactly the sort of injury that could have caused a [grade one] diffuse traumatic axonal injury (DTAI)?"

Dr DuPlessi repsonded: "The ravine is more of a staged fall, and the type of injury is normally caused by a fall from height on to a hard surface."

He went on to say that had Mr Preston suffered an uninterrupted fall on to the ravine it could have caused a DTAI, but said he 'doubted' whether that was the cause of the 34-year-old's head injury.

All five defendants deny one charge of murder.

The trial continues.