Edinburgh gunman given life sentence after attempted murder

Lee Connors was given a life sentence after the incident in Barn Park. Stock image
Lee Connors was given a life sentence after the incident in Barn Park. Stock image
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A gunman who pulled the trigger three times in a murder bid but failed to fire a bullet was given a life sentence today

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Lee Connors pointed a handgun at Grant MacBeth’s face and tried to discharge the weapon before fleeing from the scene.

When police later recovered the revolver they found that there were three bullets in the six chambers of the gun. The weapon was found to be capable of firing but was erratic.

A judge told Connors: “You have been found guilty of attempted murder using a firearm. I regard this offence as extremely serious and it appears it was mere luck that resulted in the firearm nor discharging which would have had even more serious consequences.”

Lord Ericht pointed that Connors was currently serving a five-year sentence for further firearms crime and had been assessed as posing a high risk to the safety of the public at large.

The judge imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction on the gunman and said: “That order constitutes a sentence of imprisonment for an indefinite period.”

He ordered that Connors must serve at least four years and two months in jail before he can apply for parole but told him he would only be released when it was considered no longer necessary for the protection of the public that he remain in prison.

Connors was previously told by trial judge Lord Uist: “This case is about as near to murder as you can possibly get _ pointing a loaded revolver at someone’s head and trying to fire.”

A woman who also had the gun pointed at her by Connors during the murder bid earlier told his trial: “He pulled the trigger three times at Grant.”

Kimberley Dow said: “I heard the clicks. Click, click, click.” She added: “I can still hear the clicking in my head today.”

Connors, also known as Hunter, had earlier denied attempting to murder Mr MacBeth on October 25 in 2014 at Barn Park, in Edinburgh, by presenting the revolver at him and attempting to discharge it.

He lodged a special defence of alibi claiming he had been first at his mother’s home and then a girlfriend’s in Tranent, in East Lothian.

He was found guilty of the offence as well as assaulting Ms Dow by pointing the gun at her.

Connors, a prisoner, was also convicted of a breach of the peace and firearms offences, including illegal possession of the gun and ammunition.

Ms Dow said that before the murder bid Connors had contacted her and said he needed help and could not ask anyone else. She said he sounded “really distressed”.

She agreed to meet him and Connors arrived in a black Nissan Juke. She said: “I was going to put him up. I was scared for his safety the way he was acting.”

“I felt so bad because he said there was people after him,” she said.

They went to her flat in Barn Park where she saw the gun for the first time. “He was sitting on the bath unloading the gun,” she said.

“Lee had it in his hand. I was like ‘You can’t have it in here. I saw the whole gun when he took it out the bag,” she said.

She said: “I was always on edge when I was around him. I was scared. He said ‘Don’t worry. I am not going to do anything with it. I am unloading it’.”

“He wrapped it up and asked if he could stash it in my house. I said no. I know what he was like. He would have phoned the police and told them it was my gun,” she said.

She said Connors went to hide the weapon in the Juniper Green area of the city.

She said Connors did not stay at her home that night. Mr MacBeth had come to her home the following day but Connors appeared at the window and was “out his face”.

She said he was “foaming, raging”. “He really wasn’t very happy when he saw Grant,” she said.

Connors drove off but returned screeching round the corner as she went towards Mr MacBeth’s car.

She said: “He had the gun pointed at me when he was coming round the corner.” He then pointed the weapon at Mr MacBeth who told him ‘do what you have got to do’, she said.

“He pulled the trigger three times at Grant.” Advocate depute Craig Murray asked her how she knew that and she replied: “Because I heard the clicks. Click, click, click.”

She said she had thrown her keys before the trigger was pulled as she was trying to take Connor’s attention from the other man. She said Connors had wanted her to get in the car with him before he left.

Neighbours who believed they had seen a gun in the street contacted police following the incident.

Connors told the court that the gun and bullets which were recovered were never in his possession.

He agreed with his defence solicitor advocate Vincent Belmonte that the jurors had heard no evidence from Mr MacBeth during the trial.

Mr Belmonte told the court today: “The accused maintains his innocence of all the charges.”

Lord Ericht said he had been asked to sentence Connors in the absence of the trial judge, Lord Uist.