Gunman chased man past Christmas shoppers and shot him in the head, court told

Eastbank Street in Southport
Eastbank Street in Southport

A gunman chased his victim through a busy seaside resort in front of Christmas shoppers and teenagers before shooting him in the head, a court has heard.

Jamie Bridge, 22, denies the attempted murder of Christopher Jopson, who was injured in the incident in Southport, Merseyside, last December, but has admitted wounding him with intent to do grievous bodily harm, a jury at Liverpool Crown Court was told on Monday.

Bridge has also pleaded guilty to wounding Lee Armstrong, a bus driver who was standing nearby, and possessing a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence and intent to endanger life.

Henry Riding, prosecuting, told the court Bridge had chased Mr Jopson through the town centre in the middle of the day on December 21 while carrying a double-barrelled sawn off shotgun.

Mr Riding said: "At about 12.30pm on the afternoon of Thursday December 21 2017 as the town centre of Southport was thronged with vehicles and pedestrians, shoppers, going about their last minute Christmas shopping, the defendant, Jamie Lewis Bridge, chased his intended victim, Christopher Jopson, down the very middle of Eastbank Street, one of the major thoroughfares in the heart of the town centre."

Witnesses, including teenage girls, described Bridge taking aim at Mr Jopson before firing the shot, which also hit Mr Armstrong, who was standing at a bus stop waiting to start work.

Mr Riding said: "The Crown say chasing after a man no doubt fleeing for his life, blasting him the back of the head from a distance of no less than 10 metres is about as good an evidence as you can get of intention to kill."

Neither of the men were seriously injured but both were hit in the back of the head by parts of the shot from the cartridge, with Mr Armstrong also suffering a wound to his shoulder.

In his witness statement, Mr Jopson said he had come out of the Betfred shop when he saw a man undoing his jacket and getting out a shotgun.

He said: "I thought the gun was fake but that I'd better run in case it wasn't."

A 16-year-old girl, who gave evidence from behind a screen, told the court she and her friend had seen the men running across the road before one of them pulled what looked like a shotgun from his jacket.

She said: "He put it straight up and pulled the trigger."

Mr Riding said the glass side of a bus shelter where Mr Armstrong was standing was shattered in the shooting.

In a statement which was read to the court, Mr Armstrong said: "I heard a loud bang and cracking noise and at exactly the same time felt pain to the left side of my head and to my left shoulder from behind.

"There were loads of people on the pavement all standing frozen."

Mr Riding said Bridge, of Wyresdale Road, Aintree, covered his face with a scarf or balaclava, but police recognised the bike he was riding and logos on his jacket and identified him on CCTV.

The trial is expected to last three days.