A MARTIAL arts expert jailed for the shotgun murder of a North-East drug dealer had his conviction upheld by Appeal Court judges today.

Anthony Bottrill, 46, who was jailed for life in December 2000 over Brian Scott's murder, claimed his conviction was "unsafe" since there was no direct evidence linking him to the March 2000 crime, which was carried out at the Kirkleatham Showground in east Cleveland..

But after a day in court Lady Justice Smith dismissed his appeal, ruling that there was "an abundance of evidence on which the jury could safely convict this appellant".

Bottrill - living in Coatham at the time of the murder - was a kick-boxing expert who taught self-defence classes at a Redcar gym.

The former soldier was convicted over prosecution claims that he gunned down Redcar drug-dealer Brian Scott with two shotgun blasts to the chest fired at close range.

He was also convicted of a separate charge of making threats to kill, relating to anonymous and threatening letters sent to an associate of Scott's in the months before the killing.

Lady Justice Smith rejected claims by Bottrill's QC, Vera Baird, that expert DNA evidence should have been excluded from being heard at trial.

The Kirkleaham Showground where Brian Scott was gunned down had become a well-known haunt for drug pushers and users, the Appeal Court heard.

One local police officer described hearing two shots going off and seeing a man running from the scene within minutes of the shooting in a "controlled" manner.

The prosecution claimed that Bottrill - also a keen jogger - was that man.

At trial Bottrill conceded he had gone for a run that night after dropping off his daughter, but denied murder. He had spent the rest of the night at home reading a book, he claimed.