Page last updated at 18:07 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Rhys witness refuses to testify

Rhys Jones
Rhys Jones was shot outside the Fir Tree pub

A relative of the teenager accused of murdering schoolboy Rhys Jones has refused to answer questions in court.

The boy, who cannot be identified but is related to Sean Mercer, 18, of Croxteth, was called as a witness at Liverpool Crown Court.

He was asked several questions by Neil Flewitt QC, prosecuting, but said he was "too scared" to answer.

The judge held him in contempt of court and told him to report back to court on Monday with legal representation.

Mr Mercer, of Good Shepherd Close, denies murder.

The witness was asked by Mr Flewitt: "Where were you when you heard about the shooting of Rhys Jones?"

The boy said: "No comment."

The loft of a house that was raided by police
The loft was raided by police a month after Rhys was killed

Mr Flewitt asked him: "Where were you on the night of 22 August last year?"

The boy again replied: "No comment."

Mr Flewitt continued: "Who were you with on that night?"

The boy said for a third time: "No comment."

The trial judge, Mr Justice Irwin, then turned to the videolink and spoke to the boy directly, saying: "Everyone can see it's not easy to give evidence, but you have a duty to do it."

The boy told His Honour: "I'm not prepared to give evidence against a family member."

The judge later added: "You have a duty to answer the questions."

The boy said: "I'm just so nervous and scared. I don't want to give evidence against a family member."

Mr Flewitt then read from extracts of the boy's statements to police.

The boy told officers he was playing football with friends on the night Rhys was killed.

I have had people on my estate and surrounding areas pointing and shaking their heads
Statement to police from an unnamed relative of Sean Mercer

He said he had spotted another boy on a mountain bike which he recognised as belonging to Mr Mercer.

The boy's statement read: "Sean had had the bike for only a few months. I had seen him on it on a few occasions.

"The bike was identical to Sean's bike."

He said he then took the bike and returned it to Mr Mercer's home.

In the statement he said: "I did not see the bike after I had dropped it off and I have no knowledge of what happened to it afterwards."

During the trial the jury has heard the bike was collected from the home of a boy known only as Boy M where, the prosecution says, Mr Mercer left it after the shooting.

In a further statement the boy said: "Although I have not been directly threatened I have had people on my estate and surrounding areas pointing and shaking their heads.

"I assume it is because I am giving evidence in this case."

Loft raided

The court had earlier been shown photographs of the gun allegedly used to shoot Rhys.

The Smith and Wesson .455 revolver was found in the loft of a house in Croxteth a month after Rhys was killed, Liverpool Crown Court heard.

A second gun - a converted imitation Walther PPK self-loading pistol - and a bundle of ammunition were also found in the Merseyside Police search.

Rhys Jones
Rhys Jones was shot outside the Fir Tree pub

The prosecution has said that Mr Mercer, allegedly a member of a gang known as the Croxteth Crew, cycled to the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth on 22 August last year.

They say he then fired three shots across the car park at alleged members of rival group the Strand Gang, based in the neighbouring Norris Green estate.

The jury has been told the second bullet struck Rhys as he made his way home from football practice. Shortly afterwards he died in his mother Melanie's arms.

In a statement, read to the jury by Mr Flewitt, Pc Mark Andrew Gibbs, who was taking part in the search for the gun, said: "I noticed a red and white plastic bag in the far end of the wall and furthest away from the loft hatch.

"I alerted my colleague as the bag seemed out of place. I pulled the bag back and noticed it contained something.

"I saw a black revolver and a black semi-automatic pistol. Arms teams were requested and the bag was left in situ."

James Yates, 20, of Dodman Road; Nathan Quinn, of Wickett Close, both Croxteth; Gary Kays, 25, of Mallard Close and Melvin Coy, 24, of Abbeyfield Drive, both West Derby, Liverpool, are accused of assisting an offender along with Boy M, and Boy K, 17, who cannot be named. All six deny the charges.

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