Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Craig Preston: Woman admits key 'role' in partner's death

Craig Nelson known as Craig Preston Image copyright South Yorkshire Police
Image caption Craig Preston's body was discovered by dog walkers near to the Woodhead Tunnel in August 2016

A woman has admitted playing a "significant role" in the events leading to the death of her partner but denied intending to kill him.

Leonie Mason, 23, is accused of murdering Craig Preston, 34, together with her lover Shiraz Bashir, 42, and three teenage boys in August.

Prosecutors claim Mr Preston was attacked by the group in a lay-by in Rotherham and then dumped close to the Woodhead Tunnel.

All five defendants deny murder.

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Sheffield Crown Court was previously told Ms Mason and Mr Bashir plotted to kill Mr Preston, also known as Craig Nelson, because he was an "annoyance".

Jurors heard Ms Mason was in relationships with both men at the time of Mr Preston's death.

Defence barrister Jason Pitter QC asked Ms Mason: "Do you accept that you played a significant role in the events that lead to the death of Craig Preston?"

She answered: "Yes".

Mr Pitter then asked: "Do you accept that you were wrong to play that part?", to which she replied: "Yes, definitely."

She went on to deny intending for Mr Preston to be killed or for him to be seriously harmed.

Image copyright Gareth James
Image caption Mr Nelson's body was found on 22 August on the moors of the A628 at Woodhead Tunnels

The court heard Ms Mason had been with Mr Preston for about six years after meeting him while working at a hostel.

She described their relationship as "volatile" and said they would often argue after drinking and taking drugs but that she "loved him to bits".

The defendant told the court she met Mr Bashir when she was about 20 and had started seeing him while still with Mr Preston.

She claimed Mr Bashir had been "fine" towards her initially but had later shown his "true colours", becoming violent and controlling.

Mr Pitter said: "The suggestion is that by August 2016 you so disliked Mr Preston and were so unhappy with him that you wanted him out of the way. Is that true?"

"No," said Ms Mason.

The trial of Mr Bashir and Ms Mason, both of Holme Park Court, Huddersfield, and the three teenagers, who cannot be named due to their age, continues.

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