Guilty: Gunman who blasted Leeds policewoman Suzanne Hudson

A GUNMAN who blasted a Leeds policewoman in the neck with a sawn-off shotgun has been found guilty of attempted murder.

Wednesday, 30th July 2014, 1:47 pm
PC Suzanne Hudson and PC Richard Whitley arriving at Leeds Crown Court to give evidence. Picture: Ross Parry Agency

James Leslie was today convicted by a jury of the attempted murder of PC Suzanne Hudson by blasting her with the weapon at his flat in Headingley, Leeds.

A jury at Leeds Crown Court also found Leslie guilty of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life after a two-week trial.

Mr Justice Lindblom adjourned the case so Leslie can undergo a psychiatric assessment. Leslie is likely to be sentenced on October 2.

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James Leslie

The court heard that Leslie had also pleaded guilty to an offence of arson committed two days after the shooting when he set fire to his prison cell.

He has also admitted assaulting the prison officer who went to extinguish the blaze.

The attempted murder trial heard PC Hudson lay “coughing and gurgling” in the street after being shot by Leslie when she went to his home in Leeds to investigate a complaint of criminal damage.

After the shooting he got on his bike and rode away laughing. Leslie came out of his flat after the shooting and said to Pc Hudson and her colleague: “Do you want some more?”

Newly-released police images of the shotgun and the scene of the shooting

Pc Hudson, 33, underwent life-saving surgery after suffering injuries to the arteries in her neck.

Multiple pieces of lead shot penetrated her face and neck and her hand was left a “bloody and tangled mess”.

Pc Hudson was shot when she went to Leslie’s flat on Cardigan Road in the early hours of December last year with colleague Pc Richard Whiteley to investigate a complaint that Leslie had thrown an empty Jack Daniels bottle through the window of a neighbouring property.

PC Hudson went to the top of the stairs which led to the rear of Leslie’s flat and knocked on the door.

Newly-released police images of the shotgun and the scene of the shooting

Leslie then fired the weapon through the door, from about 30cm away.

PC Hudson gave evidence at the trial in which she described the ordeal as like being in a “war movie.”

Leslie was arrested shortly after 10am after his picture had appeared in the media.

He claimed he had found the shotgun and ammunition in a cupboard under the stairs. Leslie also said he did not know the weapon was loaded and he did not mean for it to discharge.

Newly-released police images of the shotgun and the scene of the shooting

PC Hudson and PC Whiteley were today praised by senior officers for the bravery.

Chief Supt Paul Money, Leeds District Commander, said: “This case highlights the very real dangers and serious risks that police officers face as they go about their routine daily business – if such a thing exists – keeping the public of Leeds safe.

“In this case PC Hudson and PC Whiteley were investigating a report of low level criminal damage in the early hours of a winter’s morning.

“The early stages of this incident saw police officers from Leeds and a wide range of supporting departments in West Yorkshire Police respond immediately to a dynamic situation where an armed man had fired a shotgun at officers at point blank range, leaving one of them seriously injured.

“We knew he was large, we knew he was in possession of a firearm and ammunition and we knew he presented a real and present threat.

“With the help of the public who had been alerted by the media appeal, we quickly located and arrested Leslie in the street in possession of the gun and ammunition he had used to shoot PC Hudson.

Suzanne Hudson

“I would publicly like to express my sincere appreciation to the quick-thinking and public-spirited people who alerted us to his whereabouts. I would also like to express my genuine admiration for the brave actions of the officers who went forward to make the arrest.

“What followed was a professional investigation led by detectives from the Protective Services Crime team which has resulted in today’s outcome.

“This result should reassure the public about West Yorkshire Police’s commitment and capability to bring dangerous offenders to justice and keep people safe.

“The actions of PC Hudson and PC Whiteley on the night and the manner in which they have dealt and continue to deal with the impact of what happened to them makes me very proud to be their District Commander.

“They are representative of their police colleagues across Leeds and West Yorkshire in that they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things out of a sense of vocation every day that they come to work.

“I am sure this outcome today will help them, their families, friends and colleagues come to terms with what happened back in the early hours of that December morning last year.”

Julian Briggs of the Crown Prosecution Service said: “ James Leslie has today been found guilty of the attempted murder of PC Hudson who, with a colleague, was answering a routine call in Leeds in December 2013. PC Hudson was very severely injured and was fortunate to escape with her life. Both officers have shown tremendous bravery throughout and I hope that the conviction of James Leslie brings them both some comfort.

“Attacks like this on police officers are thankfully rare, but are always treated with the utmost seriousness. Along with our police colleagues, we are determined that dangerous criminals such as Leslie are brought to justice - so that police officers can continue to patrol our streets and keep our neighbourhoods and communities safe.”

The scene of the alleged shooting. Pictures: Ross Parry Agency