BREAKING: Group found guilty of killing Rotherham man in lay-by
A man and woman have been found guilty of murdering a man in a Rotherham lay-by, while their three juvenile co-defendants have been found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Following a 13 week trial, jurors have found Leonie Mason, 23, and Shiraz Bashir, 41, of murdering Craig Preston in a lay-by off Town Lane, Rotherham on August 22 last year.
Mason was Mr Preston's on-and-off again girlfriend, while Bashir was her jealous new boyfriend.
It took jurors just over two days to find Mason and Bashir, both of Holme Park Court, Huddersfield, unanimously guilty of Mr Preston's murder.
They have been remanded in custody to be sentenced at a later date.
On trial alongside the couple were two 15-year-old boys and a 16-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, charged with murder.
A jury found them not guilty of murder, but guilty of manslaughter.
The teenagers have been remanded into the care of the local authority.
Mr Preston’s body was found on the morning of Monday, August 22 2016 by dog walkers on the moors of the A628 at Woodhead Tunnels in Derbyshire.
He had been severely beaten and a port-mortem examination determined he died as a result of head injuries.
Detective Chief Inspector Steve Handley, the senior investigating officer, said: “This has been a complex and difficult murder investigation into a brutal and sustained assault on Mr Preston in summer last year.
“Bashir, Mason and the teenage boys planned together to harm Mr Preston, which we were able to demonstrate through a combination of CCTV enquiries, forensics and telecoms work.
“We completed extensive telephone forensics work on the mobiles of all defendants and rather horrifyingly, were able to retrieve an image of Mr Preston’s beaten body in the boot of a car on Bashir’s phone as well as many texts between all defendants planning their attack.
“This overwhelming evidence was placed before a jury who have reached their verdict today. I am pleased with today’s result and wish to recognise the work of my investigative team who have built a significant and complex case, as well as the Crown Prosecution Service and local authority, who have worked alongside us to manage this case.
“The three juvenile defendants, one of whom was just 14 at the time of Mr Preston’s murder, have shown no remorse for their actions, just as Bashir and Mason have denied their guilt throughout.”