Father falsely blamed son for fatal shooting, court told

Lee Holt, who died in hospital from a single wound to the chest. Photo credit: Lancashire Constabulary/PA Wire
Lee Holt, who died in hospital from a single wound to the chest. Photo credit: Lancashire Constabulary/PA Wire
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A father falsely blamed his 14-year-son for the gunshot murder of a man on the doorstep of their family home, a jury has heard.

It is alleged Matthew Moseley, 50, "sought to manipulate" his son Thomas into saying he was responsible for the killing in Oswaldtwistle, near Accrington, Lancashire.

Preston Crown Court heard that victim, Lee Holt, 32, had visited the address last October as part of an ongoing dispute between his partner's son, also aged 14, and Thomas.

The prosecution claims Moseley senior opened his front door on the early evening of October 25 last year and fired a Beretta semi-automatic shotgun once at Mr Holt, who later died in hospital from a single wound to the chest.

The defendant then immediately handed the weapon to his son who was inside the house in Barnard Close, the court was told.

Opening the case, Robert O'Sullivan QC said: "The prosecution say from that point onwards Matthew Moseley has falsely blamed his son Thomas for the shooting.

"It is the prosecution case that Matthew Moseley, from the outset, has sought to manipulate his son into accepting responsibility for the shooting and the death of Lee Holt.

"Thomas initially did just that, out of what you may think was loyalty and love for his father.

"Indeed he was arrested and interviewed by police on suspicion of the murder of Lee Holt, before the truth came out."

The court heard Mr Holt, his partner Kate Phelan, her 14-year-old son Wesley Metcalfe and a friend of the teenager went in a taxi to Barnard Close.

Thomas had been in dispute with Wesley since May 2016 and a row flared up on social media between the pair earlier on October 25 with a suggestion they meet for a fight, the jury was told.

The messages were shown to Ms Phelan and Mr Holt, who had both been drinking at a funeral, and they sent messages themselves to Thomas.

Mr O'Sullivan said Ms Phelan and Mr Holt had become "angry and agitated" before they set off for the Moseley home.

Both were seen shouting outside the property and banging the outside windows when they arrived, he said.

Thomas Moseley said he then saw his father bending down on one knee, taking a shotgun from a gun cabinet next to the porch and loading it with three cartridges.

He asked his father what he was doing and he was told by his father to call the police, the court heard.

Mr O'Sullivan said Thomas Moseley dialled 999 from a cordless phone and a sound was heard about 10 seconds into the call, which the prosecution suggested was the firing of the gun.

He said: "It is inherently unlikely, is it not, that Thomas can put the receiver down, hand it to someone, pick up the gun and fire it on the doorstep in all that time."

The jury heard that Thomas Moseley brought the gun back inside the house after it was allegedly handed to him by his father, who then told him in the hallway: "Tell them you have done it because you can't get done for it."

When police arrived, Thomas Moseley told them he had shot Mr Holt and he was arrested.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting and into the following day Matthew Moseley made a number of phone calls in which he said his son was responsible, the jury was told.

Mr O'Sullivan said: "The prosecution suggest the defendant was anxious to disseminate a false account of the events by telling lots and lots of people that his son had shot someone, anticipating that the truth would come out and his son would drop the pretence that he had fired the gun."

The defendant - a shooting enthusiast - called his brother James from his doorstep on the evening of October 25, and on the following day the British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) when he inquired whether police could take his guns away.

When Matthew Moseley was arrested on suspicion of murder he said he did not know who had fired the shotgun. He added he had heard it but no more.

On October 27 both father and son were taken to local magistrates in the back of a police van as detectives applied for further time to question them, the court heard.

A covert bug was placed in the vehicle, said Mr O'Sullivan, and it appeared that the defendant frequently reduced his voice to a whisper in conversation with his son.

The prosecutor said: "He can be heard telling Thomas that he is a minor and cannot go to jail and if Matthew Moseley did not get out they would come for his mother and younger siblings.

"He is there putting emotional pressure on his son to take the blame. He went on to say to Thomas 'self-defence for you, you didn't know what you were doing. Me, different ball game'."

Matthew Moseley was subsequently charged with murder and was remanded in custody at HMP Preston, the jury heard.

In prison the defendant made a number of phone calls which were recorded, said the prosecutor.

In one he told his wife Julia: "I weren't even f***ing aiming. I just picked it up and bang."

Mr O'Sullivan said: "Is that an admission to his wife that he had fired the shotgun? Was it the truth being revealed in an unguarded moment?"

On February 2 in a phone call from prison the defendant was heard to say to his son: "They are going for life. You do realise that? They did explain that to you?

"I will never see you again. I will never, ever get out.

"That's what they are going for which means I will never see you again. Because they coerced you into changing your statement."

Mr O'Sullivan told the jury: "The police did not coerce Thomas into anything. Whatever prison sentence he thought he might receive is irrelevant, you may think, as to the issue of who fired the shotgun.

"The prosecution say in that call Matthew Moseley was trying to manipulate his son, deploying what can only be called emotional blackmail, in order for his son to take the blame for the death of Lee Holt.

"And that ultimately is the central issue of fact for you to decide after you have heard all the evidence.

"The prosecution say that you can be sure that Matthew Moseley picked up the shotgun and, on his own doorstep, discharged it directly into the chest of Lee Holt."

Moseley denies murder.

The trial is estimated to last up to three weeks.