Group who killed man in Rotherham lay-by to be sentenced today

A man and woman found guilty of murdering a man in a Rotherham lay-by are set to be sentenced today, along with their three teenage accomplices who were found guilty of the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Friday, 16th June 2017, 11:03 am
Updated Wednesday, 21st June 2017, 3:21 pm
Leonie Mason, 23, and her boyfriend Shiraz Bashir, 41, have been found guilty of killing her ex-lover Craig Preston in a Rotherham lay-by

Following a 13 week trial, on May 17 jurors 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.

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Craig Preston was killed by Mason, Bashir and three teenage boys in a lay-by off Town Lane, Rotherham on August 22 last year

On trial alongside the couple were two 15-year-old boys and a 16-year-old boy, none of whom can be named for legal reasons, charged with murder.

All five defendants are set to be sentenced at Sheffield Crown Court today.

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.

Craig Preston was killed by Mason, Bashir and three teenage boys in a lay-by off Town Lane, Rotherham on August 22 last year

Commenting after all five were found guilty last month, 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.

"I am pleased with the 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.”