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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 August 2007, 17:22 GMT 18:22 UK
Boy 'killed for rejecting gangs'
Jessie James
Jessie was shot dead in a park almost a year ago
The mother of murdered schoolboy Jessie James has told the inquest into his death he was killed because he refused to join a gang.

Barbara Reid told the Manchester coroner her 15-year-old son had been deliberately murdered by the gang.

She said: "Because they could not stand Jessie's rejection, they killed him."

Jessie was shot while cycling near Broadfield Park, Moss Side, Manchester, in September 2006. Police have said it may have been mistaken identity.

'Living hell'

Ms Reid told the inquest at Manchester Crown Court Jessie had "humiliated the gangsters" in Moss Side by refusing to become one of them.

Time and time again up until his death, Jessie humiliated the gangsters to their face by saying no to the gang
Barbara Reid, Jessie's mother

In a statement read to the court she said he was shot because he stood up to them.

Ms Reid told the court: "Little did I know the gangs made Jessie's life a living hell.

"Jessie was cornered, pointed out and intimidated at every opportunity. He was coerced and compelled to join the gang.

"He refused to choose but they said 'If you don't take sides there is going to be nuf blood around here'. Three weeks later Jessie was a dead man.

"Time and time again up until his death, Jessie humiliated the gangsters to their face by saying no to the gang.

"This infuriated the gang and because they could not stand Jessie, Jessie's rejection, they killed him."

Ms Reid said she had no fears for Jessie's safety before his death because he was a humble, likeable boy who had no enemies.

She added: "Jessie was brought up in the church, he knows right from wrong, he had a choice, he took that choice and now he's dead."

Shadow slump

The inquest earlier heard an off-duty police officer went back to sleep without alerting authorities after being woken by a witness who claimed to have seen the shooting.

The inquiry heard the caller had told the officer about seeing pistol muzzle flashes and a shadow slump down.

Barbara Reid, mother of Jessie James
Barbara Reid says her son was killed for refusing to join a gang

However, the officer did not report it to colleagues until the morning.

The Witness A, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was hysterical and told the detective, known as Officer A, about the suspected shooting, according to lawyer Pete Weatherby, representing the family.

Officer A denied being given this description and described the account of events as "vague".

Speaking via a video link from behind a screen and with his voice distorted, the officer told the court he had been woken in the middle of the night by the call after taking medication for a chest infection.

The drugs had made him drowsy and had affected his judgment, the officer said.

Wall of silence

Asked what the caller had told them, the officer said: "At no point did Witness A say anybody had been injured, shot or certainly killed."

The inquest was told that officers who were called to a "disturbance" in the area were not told by bystanders that a schoolboy had been shot.

It was one-and-a-half hours later that a second emergency call was made and police came and found the blood-soaked body of the youngster lying beside his bicycle in the early hours of 9 September.

Almost all the key witnesses have given evidence at the inquest from behind screens and over video link with their voices distorted to maintain their anonymity.

The special measures have been introduced to combat the wall of silence police have been confronted with when trying to question members of the local community about the murder.

One person, known as witness F, who refused a summons to come to court to give evidence, was brought before the hearing after being arrested on Monday and held in custody overnight.

Giving evidence via a video link from another building, witness F told the court: "I heard gun shots coming from the park. I could hear them echoing. There was five or six bangs, maybe more."

Contempt of court

The witness denied seeing anyone in the area or youngsters on bikes.

Coroner Nigel Meadows reassured the witness they could not be identified and asked if they knew "anything more" about the murder.

Witness F replied: "I didn't see nobody."

Mr Meadows later found the witness to be in contempt of court by refusing to attend on Monday and adjourned the contempt matter until 3 September.

The coroner then "invited" the witness, who is unemployed, to make a "voluntary donation" of 25 to a charity of Ms Reid's choice by 3 September.

If the witness complied Mr Meadows said he would "reflect" on the matter to see if any further penalty was necessary.

Details of Barbara Reid's appearance at inquest

Jessie 'accused of being in gang'
06 Aug 07 |  Manchester
Two warrants for Jessie witnesses
06 Aug 07 |  Manchester
'Anonymous' Jessie inquest opens
06 Aug 07 |  Manchester
Jessie witnesses protection move
03 Aug 07 |  Manchester
Memorial service for Jessie James
14 May 07 |  Manchester
Gang refusal clue in Jessie probe
10 Nov 06 |  Manchester

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