Man found guilty of murdering father of four at travellers’ site in First Drove Burwell - conviction followed eight week trial

PUBLISHED: 10:33 06 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:33 06 November 2015

Mark Mosley

Mark Mosley

Archant

A man has been convicted of murdering a father-of-four at a Cambridgeshire travellers’ site on New Year’s Day.

Jess SmithJess Smith

Mark Mosley, 43, was found guilty of murdering 36-year-old Jessie Smith at the site in First Drove, Burwell, by a jury following an eight-week trial at Cambridge Crown Court.

Mosley, who lived at the site, was also found guilty of attempting to murder Jessie’s nephew Paul Smith, causing actual bodily harm to Albert Smith and possession of a firearm, all relating to the same incident.

The court previously heard the murder took place after an incident at a New Year’s Eve party at the Comrades Club, in Soham, in which Paul was assaulted by Mosley and other members of his family.

In the early hours of New Year’s Day, Paul, Jessie and other members of the Smith family went to the site so Paul could resolve the issue in a “fair fight” (a bare knuckle fight).

Background to the fatal shooting

New Year’s Eve in the Comrades’ Club, Soham, was, by all accounts, a stormy affair as two traveller families came to blows.

The function room was booked for a party for the Smith family to celebrate a 30th birthday – elsewhere in the club the Mosleys were out to celebrate the New Year.

At 12.30am on New Year’s Day police turned up and witnessed events turning nasty – one officer used an incapacitant spray after a glass was thrown.

Police eventually managed to settle things down; the Mosleys, some of whom by now had moved into the function room, left.

Elsewhere in town one of those involved in the skirmish was being attended to by his mother, phone calls were being made, and a resolution being sought.

As so often within the travelling community it was agreed the argument should be followed by a bare knuckle fight – the time honoured way, the court was told, for disputes of this nature to “settle the score”.

But the 3am New Year’s Day fight between two ‘duly elected’ members of each family, took a turn for the worse when a knife was produced.

Soon afterwards shouts were heard of a sawn off shotgun on the travellers site being seen – spotted, said a witness, with black tape around the butt. Mosley now had a double barrelled shotgun to add to the mix.

The gun was knocked out of his hand, Jess Smith got shot, and he died later. Mr Smith had driven off but crashed into a ditch after passing out.

Mosley denied throughout the trial he was responsible and claimed that his hasty trip afterwards to Cornwall was to visit friends.

The other members of the family were there to see fair play was observed.

However, the trial heard that while the fight was going on Mosley armed himself with a sawn-off shotgun and shot Jessie three times - the fatal shot being to the back as he was trying to get into a vehicle and leave.

Albert was also shot in the hand and Paul had the gun aimed at his stomach by Mosley who pulled the trigger but the gun did not fire. It was knocked into the air by Paul’s father and then discharged.

Detective Inspector Al Page, from the Bedfordshire Cambridgeshire Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit, who led the investigation, said:

“The actions of Mark Mosley mean that four children will now have to grow up without their father and nothing can bring him back. However, I hope the result today provides Jessie’s family with some comfort and allows them to continue re-building their lives.

“This has been a very difficult trial as Mosley broke every rule of Traveller culture, in which disputes are resolved by a fair fight between individuals, without resorting to the use of weapons.

“He armed himself with a sawn-off shotgun and started firing it at members of the Smith group indiscriminately. We are extremely lucky his actions did not lead to the death of more than one person.”


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