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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 October 2006, 18:32 GMT 19:32 UK
'Speak out to catch gun killers'
Ms A interviewed by the BBC's Ranvir Singh
Ms A (in the foreground) said she became an outcast
A woman who gave crucial evidence about a gangland murder has urged witnesses to come forward to catch the killers of teenager Jessie James.

The woman, who witnessed a murder in the Greater Manchester area, is now on a police witness protection scheme.

Thousands of people attended the funeral of Jessie, who was shot dead in Moss Side, Manchester on 9 September.

Ms A explained to the BBC why she decided to join the Witness Protection Scheme and give the evidence which led to the conviction of gangland killers.

I could have phoned the police but gunshots are normal on these estates, so like everybody else I didn't do anything.

The police came to the door but I told them I didn't see anything because that's what you do.

When they came back I asked: 'Well what if I do know something, what happens to me?'

I decided to speak out because I was angry. You watch so many of the kids grow up who you've known from when they were children and babies.

You've got to be strong to take the path that I did
Ms A
One minute you're talking to them - next minute you hear they've been shot.

Deciding to give evidence was one of the hardest things to do.

You're an outcast from your own people - black people - who would say you're a grass.

You sign a statement and are taken away from everything you know.

You leave with just the clothes you stand in because you cannot give the neighbours any indication that you are moving.

The police drive you away, and you don't know where the hell you are going. It's frightening. It's scary. You don't whether you can trust them to look after you.

'Head held high'

You've got to be strong to take the path that I did. To stand in a courtroom is very hard.

It's lonely, you don't trust anyone, and you can't get close to anyone because you don't know who they are, where they are from and who they know.

I'd say to anyone who knows about Jessie James' death, please do something about it
Ms A
If you give evidence like I did, you can hold your head up high - I can sleep at night.

The mentality of the black community is that you never trust anyone in uniform.

But times have changed, it is time we all stand up and say enough is enough.

Being on the witness protection scheme I miss my family more than anything, especially at holidays and birthdays.

But if you do decide to come forward you have to realise you have to be committed to go all the way.

Without witness protection I wouldn't have given evidence, but the police will protect you - this is a good side of the police that nobody knows.

I'd say to anyone who knows about Jessie James' death, please do something about it.

If not for yourself for his mum and to give his family some peace.

Hear a woman explain why she joined a witness protection programme.

Thousands attend Jessie funeral
24 Oct 06 |  Manchester
Teenager's murder inquiry probed
25 Sep 06 |  Manchester
Boy's death a 'watershed moment'
11 Sep 06 |  Manchester
Killing surprises few in Moss Side
11 Sep 06 |  Manchester
Boy 'executed' in city shooting
10 Sep 06 |  Manchester

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