Woman accused of killing ex-lover in Rotherham lay-by set off acted strangely in days following attack, court told

Craig Preston was found dead in a lay-by near to Town Lane, Rotherham
Craig Preston was found dead in a lay-by near to Town Lane, Rotherham

A woman accused of murdering her ex-lover in a Rotherham lay-by was seen to be acting strangely in the days following the fatal attack, a court heard.

Sheffield Crown Court was told how Carl Woolie, a long-standing acquaintance of Leonie Mason’s, observed the 23-year-old acting in a strange manner when he and Mason visited the house of their mutual friend Claire Russell.

The pair visited Ms Russell’s house in Eastwood, Rotherham on August 24 last year - three days after Craig Preston was murdered in a lay-by in Town Lane, Rotherham.

The Crown allege Mason, her new boyfriend Shiraz Bashir, 41, both of Holme Park Court, Huddersfield played equal roles in the murder of Mr Preston, of Wath-upon-Dearne, along with three 15-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

Mr Woolie told the court how during the visit Mason told him and Ms Russell that the police had phoned her earlier that day to tell her Craig’s body had been found and they believed he had been murdered.

He said Mason’s behaviour during phone conversations she took during the hour-long visit gave him cause for concern.

“As soon as someone phoned [about Craig] she would burst into tears straight away, and when she put the phone down she stopped crying. It rang alarm bells in my mind,” said Mr Woolie, who has known Mason from the Rotherham area for several years.

He added: “It made me think straight away that she knows more than she’s letting on. She seemed detached from her upset.”

Among the people Mr Woolie says he believes Mason spoke to during her visit to Ms Russell’s house, was Boy A - one of the teen defendants alleged to have been involved in the murder of Mr Preston.

Mr Woolie told the court that Mason provided the group with a bag of drugs, containing wraps of crack cocaine and heroin, that the three took together.

He said: “She said the drugs had come from Craig’s flat, which I thought was strange because she also said police were surrounding it. She said we could have the drugs for free . People don’t give drugs away for free.”

Each of the five defendants deny one count of murder. The trial continues.