Leeds shooting trial: ‘I did not know it was officer’

James Leslie.
James Leslie.
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A MAN accused of attempting to murder a police officer by shooting her with a sawn-off shotgun claimed he did not intend to fire the weapon, a jury heard.

James Leslie claimed he had found the weapon in his home and it had gone off by accident when he was arrested over the shooting of PC Suzanne Hudson.

A jury was yesterday read a statement which Leslie made after being arrested over the incident, which took place outside his flat on Cardigan Road, Headingley, Leeds in the early hours of December 4 this year.

Leslie, 38, is on trial at Leeds Crown Court where he pleads not guilty to attempted murder and an alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent. He also denies a charge of possession of a shotgun with intent to endanger life.

In the statement, read to the jury by prosecutor Richard Wright, QC, Leslie claimed he did not realise a policewoman was knocking on his door.

He said he believed he was being ‘set up’ by a group of young men who wanted to break into his home.

Leslie said he had been involved in a dispute with the men who lived near to his home.

He said one of the men had thrown a rock at his property. Leslie said he had also thrown a whiskey bottles through the window of the neighbouring property.

Leslie claimed to have found the weapon and ammunition in a cupboard as he was hoovering at his flat.

He said he did not hand the weapon to police as he feared they would not believe his account.

Leslie said he picked up the gun and ammunition after hearing someone at the door

He said: “I heard a female voice and I backed away. I feared it was a set up and they were breaking in.”

He claimed the gun went off after he knocked the butt against a wooden panel by mistake. Leslie said: “I didn’t realise it was a police officer outside. I was genuinely in shock when it went off.”

He added: “I had never been close to a gun going off before.

“My ears were ringing and I was genuinely terrified. I just wanted to get somewhere safe.”

Leslie said he believed the gun went off because it was “old and knackered”.

He said he went into some woods after the incident and was cold and frightened.

He was arrested later that morning by armed officers after he was recognised from a media appeal to trace him.

PC Hudson underwent life-saving surgery after suffering injuries to the arteries in her neck in the blast. She also suffered horrific injuries to her hand.

The officer had gone to the property with her colleague, PC Richard Whiteley, to investigate a complaint of criminal damage.

The trial continues.

Tony Burdin, chief executive of Sheffield Mutual Friendly Society

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