Pub shooting 'left me with bullet in groin' says man on trial

By Neil Docking

A man who disarmed a gunman then shot him twice in the chest insists he himself was left with a bullet lodged in his groin.

Alan Roberts is accused of trying to murder James Freeman at the Old Bank Pub, in Page Moss, on the evening of May 17 last year.

Prosecutors say during a struggle over Freeman's gun the weapon went off, with a bullet likely striking something in Roberts' tracksuit pocket.

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Liverpool Crown Court has heard medical evidence shows Roberts was left with two "tiny" fragments of a bullet in his groin, near his left pelvis.

It is alleged that after Roberts wrestled the gun off Freeman, he shot him twice in the chest at "point blank range" in "retribution", when Freeman was "no longer a threat" because he was lying on the floor and being kicked by two other men.

The jury has been told Freeman, still to this day, has one bullet lodged in his lung and another near to his heart, which doctors think is too dangerous to remove.

However, when giving evidence on Friday, Roberts insisted he too can see a "full bullet" lodged in his body.

Firearms expert Andre De Villiers Horn previously told jurors that when the two men were struggling and the gun went off, it was likely something around his waistband, like a thick wallet or mobile phone, deflected the bullet.

Roberts, who says he didn't carry a wallet or have a mobile phone because it was broken, told the jury he had "nothing whatsoever" there, but felt something hit him when he was "shot".

David McLachlan, QC, prosecuting, said: "There's no bullet inside you."

Roberts replied: "There is a bullet inside me, yes."

The prosecutor said: "Not fragments? Not bits?"

Roberts replied: "A full bullet."

Mr McLachlan said: "Why do you say that?"

Roberts said: "I see it every day I go back to prison, on the X-ray machine."

Mr McLachlan said: "Not little spots, little foci?"

Roberts said: "No."

Roberts argues he acted in self-defence - using "reasonable force" to protect himself - and says he thought Freeman was reaching for a second weapon.

He accepts that after taking hold of the gun he initially "racked" it - pulling back the slide to eject a misfired cartridge - having seen people do this in films.

Asked by Mr McLachlan what movies he liked, he said "any normal action movies", and said there wasn't one in particular in which he had seen this done.

He said: "It happens in every movie."

Prosecutors say CCTV footage shows two men in the pub kicking Freeman in the struggle and while he lay on the floor after being disarmed.

Roberts, who said he didn't know either of these men, told the court: "I didn't know if they were hitting me or hitting him at the time."

He said having later watched the video of the 8.20pm incident, he could see they were "fighting" Freeman.

Roberts agreed the two men gave Freeman "a pretty good kicking", but said he hadn't seen this at the time, because his attention was "fully focused" on getting the gun off Freeman.

Mr McLachlan played the footage and said: "Did you not see those two fellas there, by the corner, giving him a good hiding?"

"No," he replied, before accepting he was aware of their presence, just not the kicking.

Mr McLachlan said: "It's obvious Mr Roberts isn't it. They are there, kicking Mr Freeman as hard as they can."

Roberts said Freeman was reaching into his pocket and could have had another gun or a knife.

He said: "I could have been shot dead. Anyone could have been shot dead, an old lady or a young person."

Roberts denied pointing the gun at Freeman's chest and said: "I just fired the gun because I was scared."

Asked why he "didn't just run off", he said he didn't know who else might be there with Freeman and that someone might have been waiting around the corner.

Mr McLachlan said if someone else was waiting around the corner, how would it help shooting Freeman twice in the chest.

Two men suffering from gunshot wounds were arrested following a shooting in the Old Bank Pub in Page Moss (Liverpool Echo)

Roberts said: "I was scared, I didn't really know what I was thinking, I thought I was going to die."

Mr McLachlan said: "Why did you think you were going to die by shooting him twice in the chest?"

Roberts said: "Because he was clearly going to pull something out."

He told the jury: "You can't really see it on the video."

Mr McLachlan asked if shooting Freeman was "retaliation".

"No," Roberts said. "Not in any way, shape or form."

Roberts said he remembered seeing at the time Freeman reaching for his right pocket, but he didn't remember seeing at the time the two men kicking him.

The court heard in a defence statement, prepared ahead of the trial, he said he couldn't recall firing twice and couldn't say whether it was something done instinctively or whether he pulled the trigger, was "startled" by the first shot and fired again.

Mr McLachlan asked if he looked around and checked whether his girlfriend Chloe Price was alright before he ran off.

Roberts said: "No, I was scared for my life."

Mr McLachlan said: "You just got off, didn't you?"

Roberts replied: "Is that not what a scared man would do?"

Mr McLachlan said: "You had just shot a man twice in the chest hadn't you Mr Roberts. That's why you got off, isn't it?"

"No," Roberts answered.

He told the jury he wasn't aware that Freeman had been at the pub earlier, asking for a man called "Mikey", but accepted he had a brother called Michael.

Roberts denied that Freeman had been "overpowered" before he shot him.

Mr McLachlan said: "He wasn't a threat anymore."

Roberts said: "Clearly I thought he was when he put his hand in his pockets."

Freeman, 24, of Pennard Avenue, Huyton, has admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Roberts, 29, of Heyes Street, Everton, denies those offences and attempted murder.

(Proceeding)


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