• Sun. May 22nd, 2022

Hitman shot with his own gun stood trial for attempt murder

Byscarcity news

Jan 21, 2022
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Alan Roberts was meant to die the night he was wounded in a pub shooting but he managed to disarm the gunman and shoot him twice in the chest, a court heard. Prosecutors say Alan Roberts wrestled a gun from James Freeman then fired at him while he was on the floor and “no longer a threat”. But Roberts – who was hit in the groin by fragments of a bullet – denied attempted murder and argues everything he did was in self-defence.

A jury heard Freeman, 24, armed himself with a loaded gun and went looking for Roberts, 29, at the Old Bank Pub in Page Moss. Freeman, of Pennard Avenue, Huyton, has admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.  Roberts, of Heyes Street, Everton, who denies those offences and attempted murder when they went on trial at Liverpool Crown Court. 

David McLachan, QC, prosecuting, played CCTV footage of the shooting, at the pub in Princess Drive, on the evening of May 17 last year. He said Freeman was seen on an electric bike outside the Old Bank, “hanging around” looking for Roberts, who was over the road at McDonald’s with his girlfriend, Chloe Price.

Roberts and Miss Price then headed to the pub, where they were seen standing in a patio area, at 8.17pm. CCTV footage showed Freeman, wearing a black coat with his hood up and face concealed, approach the pub, just before 8.18pm. Mr McLachlan said on that Roberts then fled the scene and told passersby he had been shot but no bullet wound was found.

However, the court heard that when his tracksuit bottoms were examined a suspected bullet hole was found around the waist band. Firearms expert Andre De Villiers Horn told jurors it was likely that something in Roberts’ pocket deflected the bullet when the gun went off while the two men were struggling over it in the pub’s entrance way.

Responding to a question from Nick Johnson, QC, defending, Mr De Villiers Horn said the bullet had likely dropped out of the tracksuit after being deflected and was never recovered. Mr McLachlan said Roberts, in a blue jacket, looked towards Freeman and appeared “spooked”, before he put his hood up and ran into the pub. He said Roberts “waited around the corner” and “in essence hides behind the door”, as Freeman went after him, holding a gun in his right hand, which was loaded with at least four bullets.

The prosecutor said footage showed Roberts “making a grab for that gun” and there was a “tussle”, which spilled onto the patio area. The court heard during this tussle the gun went off, with bullet “fragments” striking Roberts and entering his groin. Mr McLachlan said Freeman had been “wrestled to the ground”, with two customers “kicking him while he was on the floor”.

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The prosecutor said Roberts “eventually” disarmed Freeman, who had been “overpowered”. He alleged Roberts was then in possession of the gun and turned away, with his back to Freeman.

The QC said: “He appeared to be ‘racking’ the firearm, that is pulling back the slide to eject a misfired cartridge from it, and transferring an unfired cartridge into the magazine chamber, in other words to make it – for want of a better expression – ‘good to go’.” He said Roberts turned back towards Freeman and that jurors would see two “muzzle flashes”.

Mr McLachlan said: “James Freeman was lying on his back, having been overpowered. He was no longer a threat. Alan Roberts shot James Freeman twice in the chest at point blank range.” He said Roberts put his hood up and ran away with the gun in his hand, before “to add insult to injury, he rides off on James Freeman’s electric bike”.

The court heard Freeman also left the pub and fell before “stumbling off”, as one local appeared to kick out at him. He made his way past Huyton PDSA pet hospital to Barkbeth Road, where a resident initially thought he was drunk, but then called an ambulance. Mr McLachlan said Freeman said: “I think I’ve been shot.”

Freeman was taken to Aintree hospital after suffering two gunshot wounds to the chest – leaving one bullet lodged in his lung and another near to his heart – and a swollen and cut left eye socket. Mr McLachlan said there was no indication the bullets had moved or were going to and doctors feared surgery was more dangerous than leaving them in place. Roberts attended Whiston Hospital with Miss Price and was found to have a gunshot wound to his left groin, near to his pelvic bone.

He was twice interviewed by police after being arrested on suspicion of possessing a firearm and attempted murder. In his first interview, Roberts gave a prepared statement, in which he said: “I wish to confirm at the very outset of this prepared statement that I deny these allegations. “I have not attempted to murder anyone at any time during this alleged incident. I wish to confirm that anything I did on the 17th of May 2021 was acting in self-defence having been shot by an individual armed with a firearm resulting in me sustaining a gunshot wound to the groin requiring hospitalisation.

“All I did during the alleged incident was use reasonable force to protect myself. I will make no further comment during this interview.” He answered “no comment” to all questions in the remainder of the first interview and the second interview. Mr McLachlan said crime scene investigators went to the pub and recovered cartridge cases from three bullets and also a misfired bullet, all of which a forensic scientist said were fired from the same gun.

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He told jurors Freeman went in “search” of Roberts with a loaded gun, intending to cause him really serious harm. Mr McLachlan alleged that when the gun was “under his control”, Roberts then attempted to murder Freeman.

The QC said: “The prosecution say it is not a case of him disarming James Freeman and taking the firearm and lashing it away, or doing away with it somewhere, or taking it out of harm’s way. “The prosecution say he took that gun under his control and then made use of that gun. “As to the use that he made of it, you will see in due course the racking of the firearm, so as to clear the chamber of the gun, and turning to James Freeman – no longer a threat – t

In short, the prosecution say count one, attempted murder, is that Alan Roberts intended to kill his adversary in that moment, James Freeman, and he made a very good attempt at it, by firing not once, but twice into his chest.” he argued he acted in self-defence and thought Freeman might be reaching into his pocket for a second weapon. 

However, Freeman, of Pennard Avenue, Huyton, admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life. This was accepted by the prosecution, who offered no evidence on the attempted murder charge.

Roberts, from Page Moss but now of Heyes Street, Everton, denied all three offences in a five-day trial. His barrister, Nick Johnson, QC, told the jury Freeman was “the assassin” and his client was “the victim”. In his closing speech, he said it was “the clearest case of self-defence you could get”.

A jury today cleared Roberts of attempted murder, but unanimously found him guilty of the two other charges, after nearly eight hours of deliberation. He showed no emotion when the verdicts were returned, while his girlfriend Chloe Price, sitting in the public gallery with another woman, sobbed.

Roberts’ younger brother Michael Roberts was jailed for life in 2019 for manslaughter, over the shooting of Huyton teenager James Meadows in 2017.\

Michael roberts

The Crown Prosecution Service said that Dylan Westall, 29, from Rudgate in Whiston and Michael Roberts, 26, of Kipling Avenue in Huyton, shot James Meadows in Lyme Cross Road in Huyton on 8 October 2017. James was shot as he rode on the back of a motor bike.

The shot was fired from a Mercedes car that had been stolen in Huyton the month before. Westall and Roberts were in the car at the time of the shooting and Michael Roberts’ DNA was found on a bullet casing at the scene. The car was eventually found cut up and abandoned in the Walton area of Liverpool.

On 25 October 2019 Westall and Roberts were convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy to possess firearms with intent to endanger life. Both men have been jailed for life. Westall was described as “very dangerous” and must serve a minimum of 22 years before he can be considered for release.

Roberts was considered “dangerous” and must serve a minimum of 12 years before he can be considered for release. Today’s sentencing brings to an end a complicated case for the Crown Prosecution Service that has run to two trials. Evidence from mobile phones and call data was key to the case.

Westall and Roberts had been charged with murder but the jury acquitted them of that charge and found them guilty of manslaughter. James Meadows, of Barford Road in Huyton was a friend of Rueben Murphy, who was in prison at the time of the killing.

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