Sheffield man goes on trial accused of having loaded shotgun in public place

A Sheffield man has gone on trial accused of being in possession of a loaded shotgun, after police found him concealed in the boot of the stolen vehicle where the weapon was recovered.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 10:17 am

Leon Waite, 21, of no fixed abode, went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court this morning, accused of two offences of having a loaded shotgun in a public place and being conveyed in a stolen vehicle, both of which he denies.

Waite’s co-accused, Derice Cohen, 18, of Birch House Avenue, Oughtibridge, has been charged with the same offences and pleaded guilty to them at an earlier hearing.

Prosecutor Camille Morland told the jury of seven women and five men that Waite and Cohen were arrested on May 27 this year, after armed police approached a Subaru Forester that was parked up in Norwood Avenue, Norwood at around 2am.

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Leon Waite went on trial at Sheffield Crown Court today (Monday, November 4)

“Sitting in the driver’s seat was Derice Cohen...on the front passenger seat of that vehicle was a shotgun,” Ms Morland said.

The jury was told that the shotgun was loaded with two cartridges, and two more cartridges were found inside the vehicle.

“This defendant was found on the rear of that vehicle in the boot area and was partially in the rear area,” Ms Morland said.

She added: “There were various items in the vehicle, making it difficult for the police to see inside.”

The jury was shown a 10-minute video of body cam footage from the officer who arrested Cohen.

Following Cohen’s arrest, the same officer tells him a ‘cursory search’ of the vehicle is going to be carried out; and it is during this search that Waite is found in the rear of the vehicle.

Ms Morland told the court that the Subaru Forester vehicle both defendants were found in was stolen from the Lowedges area overnight between May 23 and 24 - a number of days before this incident.

She said that through his guilty plea, Cohen had already admitted using the vehicle ‘when he knew it had been taken’.

“The prosecution say Leon Waite had with him, in the sense of knowledge and possession, that shotgun...he was in such close proximity to it in the front seat that he must have known it was relation to the car charge, Leon Waite was a passenger. He knew it was stolen and allowed himself to be carried in it, knowing full well it was a stolen vehicle.” Ms Morland told the jury.

She added: “Leon Waite is likely to say he didn’t know the shotgun was in the car, and he didn’t know the car had been taken or stolen, as it were.

“He may say he was only in the vehicle for a short period of time. These are the central issues in this case for you to decide.”

The trial, which is scheduled to conclude on Wednesday, continues.

Cohen is due to be sentenced after the conclusion of this trial.