Rotherham lay-by murder victim took 'hit out' on love rival in weeks running up to his death

Craig Preston's body was found near to the Woodhead Pass on August 22 last year.
Craig Preston's body was found near to the Woodhead Pass on August 22 last year.

A man murdered in a Rotherham lay-by had taken a ‘hit out’ on his love rival in the weeks running up to his death, police were told.

Sheffield Crown Court heard how Leonie Mason, 23, went to South Yorkshire Police on August 6 last year and told officers that for the past week her former boyfriend Craig Preston had been forcing her to stay with him at his flat in Montgomery Square, Rotherham.

Mason told officers Mr Preston had kept the door locked during most of this time, in a bid to stop her returning to Shiraz Bashir, 41, - the man Mason called her ‘husband’ and one of four other people accused of killing Mr Preston on August 22.

She also claimed Mr Preston had told her that he had a ‘hit out’ to kill Bashir, and that this had been reiterated by three of his associates, one of whom was carrying weapons including a hand gun, a baseball bat and metal bars in the boot of his car.

During the police interview on August 6, which was held just over a fortnight before Mr Preston was murdered in a lay-by in Town Lane, Rotherham, the court heard how Mason had told officers that while she had been kept in his flat she had used the time to try and get information out of Mr Preston about the hit on Bashir by ‘being nice’ to him and by sleeping with him.

However, under cross-examination by Bashir’s barrister Jo Sidhu QC this morning, Mason said she had been lying to police about Mr Preston and his associates telling her they had taken a hit out on Bashir.

Mason said: “I was lying.

“Shaz [Bashir] told me what to say. He wanted me to make it sound as bad as I could.”

Mason said she was also lying about Mr Preston keeping her in the flat, and said Bashir had forced her to go to the police and had told her what she should say.

She also said that she was only with Bashir at the time of the police interview because she believed Mr Preston no longer wanted her.

Mr Preston’s body was found by dog walkers near to the Woodhead Pass on August 22 last year.

Mason and Bashir, both of Holme Park Court, Huddersfield, along with three 15-year-old boys who cannot be named for legal reasons are all accused of murdering Mr Preston.

All five deny one count of murder.

The trial continues.