Gunman who shot East Lancs police officer found guilty of attempted murder

PC Suzanne Hudson

PC Suzanne Hudson

First published in News

A GUNMAN who shot a Pendle police officer and then left laughed as he cycled away has been found guilty of attempted murder.

James Leslie fired at former Mansfield High School student PC Suzanne Hudson and her colleague, PC Richard Whiteley, when they answered a call about a neighbourhood dispute in Leeds last December.

Leeds Crown Court heard how it was ‘simply a matter of luck’ that PC Hudson - who was working just her sixth frontline shift - had not been killed.

PC Hudson, from Brierfield, needed emergency surgery on arteries in her neck after the shooting, while her right hand was shredded by the shotgun pellets.

Leslie, 38, shot at the officers through the front door of his home in Cardigan Road, Headingley, and then goaded them as they called for back-up.

The court was told how he laughed as he cycled away from the scene and hid in a bush just 10ft from the injured officers.

Giving evidence, PC Whiteley said: “I thought I was going to die. My life flashed in front of my eyes. I thought Suzie was as well. I thought: ‘He has used it once, he is going to use it again’.”

PC Hudson, 33, said she did not realise she had been shot. She later had 80 pellets removed from her hand at Leeds General Infirmary.

She told the court: “It was only when PC Whiteley was on the police radio telling the control room what happened that he used words like 'Shots fired, officer down' at which point I obviously heard that and thought I must have been shot.”

She added: “I felt like I was fading out. I couldn’t move properly.”

Colleagues launched a manhunt for Leslie, a schizophrenic, and he was arrested later at a Subway sandwich shop.

He had admitted possessing a prohibited weapon and causing criminal damage, but denied attempting to murder PC Hudson and an alternative charge of causing her grievous bodily harm with intent.

He also denied possessing a shotgun with intent to endanger life but was convicted of that offence as well as attempted murder.

Insisting that he did not mean to discharge the weapon, Leslie said: “I'm not a nut job who's just going to shoot down police for no reason.”

The court also heard that Leslie set fire to his cell and attacked a prison officer two days after the shooting. He has admitted arson and assault.

Welcoming the guilty verdict, Nick Smart, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, said he was “pleased” Leslie had unanimously been convicted of attempted murder.

He said: “I am pleased that the jury has seen through the lies offered to justify his attack on an officer who turned up to a call.

“We hope the full force of the law will be dealt when Leslie is sentenced. One of our representatives has been at the trial throughout and helped the officers through the whole process.

“This will stay with Suzanne and Richard for the rest of their service and the rest of their lives. While the court case is over, the support from the federation will no doubt be continuous.

“Policing and keeping communities safe is a dangerous job and the kicking we have had in recent years has led to people forgetting the dangers police officers face on a daily basis.

“If it wasn’t for Suzanne and Richard’s quick-thinking and bravery, we could have lost two officers similar to what happened in Manchester in 2012.

“In West Yorkshire we have already had two fatal shootings on officers in just over a decade - Ian Broadhurst in 2003 and Sharon Beshenivsky in 2005. This could quite easily have been two more.”

Leslie will be assessed by psychiatrists in Merseyside until he is sentenced on October 2.

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