Woman accused of murdering ex-lover in Rotherham lay-by played 'significant role' but did not intend to kill or hurt him

The body of Craig Preston was found by dog walkers near to the Woodhead Pass on August 22 last year
The body of Craig Preston was found by dog walkers near to the Woodhead Pass on August 22 last year

A woman accused of murdering her former lover in a Rotherham lay-by has admitted to playing a ‘significant role’ in the events that led to his death - but says she did not intend for him to be killed or seriously injured.

Giving evidence at Sheffield Crown Court today Leonie Mason, 23, was asked a number of questions relating to her involvement in the murder of her long-time partner Craig Preston on August 22 last year.

When asked by her defence barrister Jason Pitter QC if she accepted playing a ‘significant role in the events that led to the death of Craig Preston’ - and that she was wrong to do so, Mason responded by saying ‘yes’.

Mr Pitter QC continued: “Did you, at any stage, intend for Craig Preston to be killed?

“Did you intend for him to be caused serious harm?”

Mason answered both questions with a simple ‘no’.

The court was told how Mason met Mr Preston, whose body was found near to the Woodhead Pass on August 22, when she was working at a hostel that he was attending in a bid to come off drugs.

She described how the pair quickly became the best of friends who would do ‘everything together,’ before entering into a six-year relationship a short time later.

Mason said the pair had a ‘volatile’ relationship and would often fight, something she says was exacerbated when they were both on drugs. She said: “When we were both taking drugs - that’s when the fighting started happening.”

The court was told how Mason began a relationship with Shiraz Bashir, 41 - one of the four other people accused of murdering Mr Preston - when Mr Preston was in prison.

Mason told jurors it was appropriate to call the situation a ‘love triangle’ and described going ‘backwards and forwards’ between the two men.

When asked who she was in a relationship with when Mr Preston was murdered in a lay-by in Town Lane, Rotherham she said: “Craig.”

Mason said her relationship with Bashir started out ‘fine’ but after they started fighting he began to act in a controlling manner, which is when she says he revealed his ‘true colours’.

The court was read transcripts of a Skype Messenger conversation between Mason and Bashir, both of Holme Park Court, Huddersfield, on August 5 in which the latter described wanting to ‘get rid’ of Craig because it would mean a group of men who had been threatening him would leave him alone.

Mason told the court she agreed with Bashir at the time to ‘humour’ him but said she did not believe he was serious.

Mason, Bashir and three 15-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are all accused of playing an equal role in the murder of Mr Preston.

All five deny one count of murder.

The case continues.