Craig Preston death: Man denies murdering love rival

Image source, South Yorkshire Police
Image caption, Craig Preston's body was discovered by dog walkers near to the Woodhead Tunnel in August 2016

A man accused of killing a love rival has denied playing any part in the attack that led to his death.

Shiraz Bashir is accused of murdering Craig Preston, 34, together with his lover Leonie Mason and three teenagers.

Mr Bashir said he had gone to meet Mr Preston to resolve a "problem" when one of the teenagers launched the attack and two more sprang from a nearby bush.

He claimed he shouted at Ms Mason and the boys to stop but was hit with a wooden stick. All five deny murder.

Prosecutors allege Mr Bashir, 42, and Ms Mason, 23, plotted to kill Mr Preston, also known as Craig Nelson, because he was an "annoyance" to their relationship.

They claim Mr Preston, who was also in a relationship with Ms Mason at the time, was tied up and then kicked, punched and stamped on before being bundled into a car boot and dumped near the Woodhead Tunnel on 21 August. His body was found the following day.

Image source, Gareth James
Image caption, Prosecutors allege Mr Preston's body was dumped by the Woodhead Tunnel after he was attacked in a lay by in Rotherham,

Under cross examination from Jason Pitter QC, acting for Ms Mason, he was asked: "So you played no part at all in any of the violence?"

He replied: "I did not play a part. That's true."

He said he had travelled to the lay-by in Rotherham were the attack took place alone and was "surprised" when two teenagers appeared from the bushes.

He said a third teenager, who arrived with Ms Mason and Mr Preston, had struck the first blow before the others joined in. He said he was struck with a stick during the attack.

Image source, PA
Image caption, All five defendants are on trial at Sheffield Crown Court

Mr Pitter said: "So you position is that you were unable to stop what was occurring?"

Mr Bashir said: "After being hit by a stick I could not move my shoulder. I was in pain."

"Did you just stand there and watch what was happening?" asked the barrister.

"Yes," said Mr Bashir. "I did shout out. I shouted, 'Stop it'."

He denied then driving with Ms Mason to the Woodhead Tunnel to dump Mr Preston's body, saying that when he asked Ms Mason what had happened later she told him she had dropped Mr Preston back at his flat.

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 at Sheffield Crown Court.

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