Sheffield & South Yorkshire

Sheffield shooting trial: Murder accused refuses to name gunmen

Assel Al-Essaie Image copyright South Yorkshire Police
Image caption Aseel Al-Essaie, 23, died after being shot in February 2017

The driver of a car used in a fatal shooting has refused to say who was in the vehicle at the time of the killing, saying: "I'm not prepared to put my life on the line".

Matthew Cohen, 29, is one of three men accused of murdering Aseel Al-Essaie in Sheffield in February 2017.

Asked who was with him at the time of the killing he said: "I'm not naming Mickey Mouse. I'm not naming nobody."

Mr Cohen, of Bramwell Close, Sheffield, denies murder.

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Mr Al-Essaie was shot dead by three men in a VW Golf as he sat in his car on Daniel Hill.

Prosecutors allege Mr Cohen was the driver of the VW and Dale Gordon, 33, and Keil Bryan, 32, were both passengers.

Mr Gordon, of St Philip's Road, Sheffield, and Mr Bryan, of Brackley Street, deny murder.

Mr Cohen told Sheffield Crown Court he had been driving the car when somebody inside it shot Mr Al-Essaie.

In cross-examination, prosecution barrister David Brooke QC said: "You know who the killer is and you are not prepared to tell the jury."

Mr Cohen replied: "I'm not prepared to put my life on the line."

'Fit me up'

Mr Brooke said: "When you saw Aseel in that car you deliberately turned around and the three of you tooled up and went for a confrontation, that's what happened isn't it?"

Mr Cohen said: "That's definitely not what happened."

He denied knowing Mr Al-Essaie or his family, and denied being involved in drug-dealing or becoming involved in a row about territory with Mr Al-Essaie's brother Saleh.

Mr Brooke said: "If you are innocent why have Mr Al-Essaie's family got it in for you?"

Mr Cohen replied: "They are trying to fit me up and the police have jumped on board."

Image caption The trial is being heard at Sheffield Crown Court

Prosecutors allege that following the shooting Mr Cohen ordered James Good, 29, to torch the VW.

Mr Cohen, who earlier admitted perverting the course of justice in relation to the incident, said he had not told Mr Good what to do.

He said the two men bought and sold cars for a living and that he had rung Mr Good to say the car had been "involved in something".

Mr Good, of Ringstead Crescent, denies perverting the course of justice.

Earlier, following legal submissions, the case against brothers Razwan, 26, and Mohammed Mirza, 30, of Staniforth Road, was dismissed by Mr Justice Males and not guilty verdicts entered.

Both had been charged with assisting an offender.

The case against Mr Cohen's mother, Patricia Sharp, 58, of Bramwell Close, was also thrown out.

She had been charged with perverting the course of justice.

The trial continues.

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