Hunt master Brian Fraser cleared of attempting to murder ex-lover Louise Leggatt in Shadoxhurst
Brian Fraser was
cleared of attempting to murder showjumper Louise Leggatt,
pictured right by Jim Bennett
by Keith Hunt
A hunt master cleared of trying to kill his ex-lover after she
dumped him could still face jail for possessing a shotgun without a
Contract farmer Brian Fraser was given the warning by a judge
who branded him "a risk".
The 63-year-old joint master of Ashford Valley Hunt looked
relieved as a jury acquitted him of attempted murder and an
alternative charge of causing grievous bodily harm with intent
following seven hours of deliberation.
Judge Charles Byers said: "It was not an easy case for any jury
Fraser (pictured right on a hunt in 2005) had claimed he
did not have a shotgun when questioned by police investigating the
shooting of divorcee Louise Leggatt as she tended her horses at
But following a tip-off by one of Mrs Leggatt's sons, the weapon
was discovered in a hay bale at his farm in Criol Lane,
Shadoxhurst, Ashford. He admitted the possession charge.
The judge said after the jury of six men and six women returned
unanimous verdicts: "It was an extremely irresponsible thing to
have done, and the manner of its keeping is not just a clerical
"It could have fallen into the wrong hands. It could have fallen
into the hands of children. To keep a shotgun secreted in a barn
and to lie about it, in my view he is a risk."
Adjourning sentence for reports until March 18 and granting
bail, the judge added: "He must understand he is very much at risk
of a custodial sentence for this.
"I have never come across such a lackadaisical and irresponsible
attitude to firearms, especially from a man who is described as a
Maidstone Crown Court heard Fraser was alleged to have lurked in
bushes at night and shot the 54-year-old showjumper, with whom he
had a five-year relationship.
She had previously suspected her former husband Philip Gorringe,
62, of burning down her home and believed he could be responsible
for the shooting.
Mr Gorringe, pictured right, was arrested but later
released and Fraser was then charged.
Fraser at first claimed he neither had a gun nor had gone out
the evening Mrs Leggatt was gunned down.
But a single barrelled shotgun was found in the barn and CCTV at
the farm revealed he had driven out and returned at the crucial
The mother-of-two was renting a house at Apple Pie Farm in
Benenden after her house, Pippins, next door was torched two months
before on January 18.
Judge Byers said he was prepared to grant Fraser bail
conditional on residence at his 53-acre farm. A curfew was
He was banned from contacting Mrs Leggatt or her two sons until
a restraining order had been considered.
The judge said he had the power to make such an order "even in
the face of an acquittal".
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