Leeds Ex-Soldier Denies Landlady Murder

2 April 2012, 17:28 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Tomorrow the jury will decide if an ex-soldier from Leeds is guilty or not guilty of murdering his landlady after coming back from Afghanistan.

24 year old Aaron Wilkinson, of Alma Street in Woodlesford, Leeds, is on trial at Bradford Crown Court charged with murdering 52-year-old Judith Garnett by shooting her in the chest and head.

Wilkinson, who was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress reaction after a six-month tour of duty in Afghanistan, has pleaded guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility, but denies murder.

The jury has heard that Wilkinson, who has also been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome or a similar condition, joined the Territorial Army in his late teens and went to Afghanistan in 2009, where he suffered a minor shrapnel wound to his side and may have been the victim of bullying. Following his return, he became "preoccupied" with his experience and seemed disappointed at not having fired a single shot, the jury was told.

He had worked for Mrs Garnett on her game farm for around 10 years and had moved into her attic as a lodger in July 2010 after an argument with his mother.

On the day of the shooting on January 24 2011, the court heard Mrs Garnett had returned home and shouted at Wilkinson for not looking after her dogs properly, calling him "lazy, thick and cruel", throwing his gun into the attic room and telling him to pack his bags.

He shot at Mrs Garnett three times. The first shot hit her in the chest, the second grazed the side of her face and the third was fired from close range into her head.

Richard Mansell QC, prosecuting, told the court the shooting "may have had something to do with a fascination with guns and killing and a desire to see what it was like to shoot someone, something which he had not managed to achieve in Afghanistan". Mr Mansell also suggested that Wilkinson planned the killing in revenge for Mrs Garnett telling him to move out.

But Wilkinson told the court he was not in control when he fired the gun. He said it felt as though he was in a "trance" and like he was watching television as he loaded the gun and fired it at Mrs Garnett.

Wilkinson said he realised immediately afterwards that he had done "a terrible wrong" and called the police.