Murder jury hears 999 call

Preston Crown Court
Preston Crown Court
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A murder trial jury has heard 999 calls made by a neighbour to alert emergency services to a man who was bleeding to death.

George Rostron had left his flat in Westfield Drive, Leyland, to take his dog for a walk, shortly after 10.30am on Sunday, December 18, last year, when he discovered the lifeless body of John Leatherbarrow.

He told jurors when he opened the door to his flat he could hear Barry Cookson, 41, who is accused of murdering Mr Leatherbarrow following a row about a small drugs debt.

On the second day of the trial, Mr Rostron told jurors he could see a pair of legs sticking out from the upstairs flat and could see blood on the floor.

He returned to his flat and phoned 999, telling the operator: “He looks in a bad way. He’s not moving.”

The court heard emergency services were busy due to icy conditions, and Mr Rostron made a second call for an ambulance followed by a call to police before crews arrived at the scene.

PC Howard Cook, who was first on the scene, told the court he arrived at the flat to find Mr Leatherbarrow dead and Cookson standing on the stairs, speaking to the police control room on his mobile phone.

Cookson had blood on his hands, face and hair and a wound to his stomach.

PC Cook asked Cookson to go upstairs while he attended to Mr Leatherbarrow.

When the officers went to speak to Cookson, he was kneeling on the floor, rolling a cigarette, court heard.

He was handcuffed and told he was being arrested on suspicion of murder, to which he replied: “Murder? How is he?”

Cookson, of Westfield Drive, Leyland, told the officers he had been in a fight with Mr Leatherbarrow, from Ulnes Walton, but he denies murder.

On Tuesday, court heard Cookson told a friend he had “battled” with Mr Leatherbarrow over a half-gram drugs debt on the morning he was killed.

Jurors heard Mr Leatherbarrow had left his home in Ulnes Walton at around 10.20am, with £10 to buy heroin from Cookson.