Bullet fired at man’s groin ‘blocked by something in his pocket’

A man accused of trying to shoot a gunman dead with his own weapon may have been saved from a horrific bullet wound seconds before by something in his tracksuit pocket.

Jurors in the trial of Alan Roberts, who is accused of trying to kill James Freeman during a confrontation at a pub in Huyton last year, heard today that a wallet or a phone may have stopped him from being hit in the groin with a bullet.

Yesterday they were told Freeman, 24, armed himself with a loaded gun and went looking for Roberts, 29, at the Old Bank Pub in Page Moss before Roberts disarmed him and shot him.

READ MORE:Pub gunman shot twice in the chest with his own weapon

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Freeman admitted wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life after the incident in the Old Bank Pub in Page Moss.

Roberts maintains his innocence.

Jurors in his case were shown CCTV footage of the incident yesterday, with the two men appearing to struggle for the gun in the pub’s entrance way before it goes off.

David McLachlan, QC, prosecuting, said yesterday that Roberts managed to overpower Freeman before “racking” the gun to dispose of a misfired bullet, pointing it at Freeman and shooting him twice.

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Mr McLachlan said on Wednesday that Roberts then fled the scene and told passersby he had been shot but no bullet wound was found.

However, the court heard today 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.

Police outside the Old Bank pub in Page Moss on Monday (May 17).

He said: “The most likely explanation for this was that he had something tucked into his waistband or boxers that stopped the bullet.

“It is quite possible that at some point the bullet dropped out during his departure from the scene and that it was never found.”

He said a thick wallet or mobile phone were among the items that could have stopped the bullet.

Mr De Villiers Horn said further testing increased his confidence that the damage to Roberts’ tracksuit bottoms was caused by gun being fired.

He tested for lead, a component of bullets which can end up on surfaces after it is propelled out of the gun when fired.

He said: “I found a positive reaction for lead. The lead was consistent with being deposited by the propellant particles.

“It confirms to me that a firearm had been discharged within a close range.”

The court heard yesterday that 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".

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.

Freeman pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Roberts has denied wrongdoing from his first interview with police and is due to give evidence later in the trial.