Page last updated at 16:20 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Shot Rhys 'turned down lift home'

Rhys Jones with a football
Rhys was a football-mad youngster

Rhys Jones's football coach will never forget the moment the Everton-mad 11-year-old was shot.

Steve Geoghegan had just asked the youngster if he wanted a lift back to his home in Croxteth Park, but Rhys told him: "No. It's all right, I'll walk."

Within minutes he was lying on the ground outside the nearby Fir Tree Pub, covered in blood after being hit by a bullet from Sean Mercer's gun.

Mr Geoghegan was one of the first people on the scene at the car park, and says he still has "vivid memories" of the events of 22 August 2007.

"Rhys had just left me just after me offering him a lift home. He refused a lift and he started to make his way across that car park," he told BBC News.

"I just pulled away in my car - myself and my son - and my son saw Rhys fall to the ground.

"I didn't realise what had actually happened at this time but it was evident that Rhys was hurt - I thought he had just fallen over but I knew he'd hurt himself."

He was really skilful, he could take kids on, beat kids, run and score spectacular goals
Steve Geoghegan, football coach

The football coach slammed on his brakes and sprinted over to where Rhys was lying on the ground, but but said it became immediately clear that nothing could have been done to save him.

"A young woman had got to Rhys just before I did and was trying to administer some sort of first aid," said Mr Geoghegan.

"It was quite evident straight away that whatever anyone had done at that time, there wasn't a lot that could have been done to save Rhys really.

"As soon as I arrived next to Rhys this girl was kneeling down holding him. She was screaming to me 'he's been shot' and I just went numb. Not a lot registered.

"My son was hysterical screaming and running around the car park. I was trying to console him and tell him everything was going to be alright."

Rhys (far left) and his football team
Rhys was the most talented player in the team, his coach says

Before the tragic events Rhys had been training ahead of his team's weekend game and had scored the final penalty of the session.

Football was his life and the left-footed youngster could have been destined for a future in the game, according to his coach.

"First of all as a young footballer he had a really good talent. He was left-footed and was probably the best footballer in our team at the time," said Mr Geoghegan.

"He was really skilful, he could take kids on, beat kids, run and score spectacular goals. That season he got goal of the season for us with a free kick that I think Steven Gerrard would have been proud of.

"At 11 years of age he had a wonderful talent, Rhys, and I'm quite surprised that no-one had scouted him at that time because it's unusual to have such a gifted left foot, and he could read the game.

"If his brother Owen is anything to go by Rhys would have grown up to be a lovely person."

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific