Tree surgeon jailed for at least 26 years for gun murder he tried to pin on son

Tree surgeon Matthew Moseley. Photo credit: Lancashire Constabulary/PA Wire
Tree surgeon Matthew Moseley. Photo credit: Lancashire Constabulary/PA Wire

A man who pressured his 14-year-old son to take the blame for a murder he committed has been jailed for at least 26 years.

Tree surgeon Matthew Moseley, 50, shot Lee Holt, 32, dead before he handed the firearm to son Thomas and told him to tell police he was the one who pulled the trigger outside their home near Accrington, Lancashire, last October.

Thomas made the fake confession and his father stayed silent as the teenager was arrested and led away in handcuffs last October.

The teenager later changed his account of the incident in Barnard Close, Oswaldtwistle, and told police that his father was in fact the shooter but the defendant maintained his innocence.

Last week Moseley was found guilty of murder by a jury at Preston Crown Court following a three-week trial. On Tuesday, at the same court, he was jailed for life and ordered to serve a minimum term of 26 years.

Mr Holt went to Barnard Close with his partner, Kate Phelan, 34, and her 15-year-son, Wesley Metcalfe, to confront Thomas over an ongoing dispute between the two schoolboys.

Witnesses said Ms Phelan banged on the front windows and Mr Holt kicked the front door as they shouted for the Moseleys to come out.

Matthew Moseley opened the front door after he had loaded a semi-automatic Beretta shotgun, and blasted Mr Holt once in chest from up to 10ft (3m) away.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Bryan told the defendant: "There was no possible justification for your actions, nor was there any suggestion that you were acting in self-defence.

"But matters did not stop there. Far from unloading the gun and providing first aid to your victim, you passed the shotgun to your 14-year-old son, Thomas - itself an irresponsible act in the context of an ongoing volatile situation.

"From that moment on, you falsely sought to blame your son for the shooting. How any father could do that to their son is difficult enough to comprehend but what is truly incomprehensible is the cynical way in which you sought to manipulate, and pressurise, your son into accepting responsibility for the shooting and death of Lee Holt.

"You allowed your son to be arrested and questioned on suspicion of murder when all along you knew you had shot Lee Holt.

"Your continual denial of guilt resulted in him having to give evidence against his own father and members of Lee Holt's family having to relive the terrible events of the night in question."