'I cradled my dying boy in my arms': Court hears moving account of Rhys Jones's mother

The mother of Rhys Jones wept on Tuesday as a jury was told of the shattering moment she learned her son had been shot.

Melanie Jones, 42, had been waiting for 11-year-old Rhys to return from football training when one of his coaches called at her house.

'He was extremely agitated and told me Rhys had been shot,' she later told police. 'I was in a state of total shock and didn't really take anything in.'

Rhys Jones

Innocent victim : The emotional first statement of Rhys Jones's mother Melanie has been read to the courtroom

Moments later, she was cradling her dying son.

Mrs Jones, who was with her husband Stephen, 45, in the public gallery, wept as her harrowing statement was read to the murder trial.

She also cried as Sharon Lynch  -  who was the first to come to Rhys's aid  -  told how she found him lying motionless with his eyes open and blood coming from his mouth.

In her statement to Liverpool Crown Court, Mrs Jones said: 'I telephoned Stephen. I said Rhys had been shot and he'd better come quickly.'

She was then taken by football coach Tony Edge to the pub car park where Rhys had been shot, allegedly the innocent victim of a gang feud.

'I saw a number of people including police officers and paramedics,' her statement said. 'The paramedics were attending to my son.

'I cradled him as the paramedics dealt with him. Then I went with my son in the ambulance to Alder Hey Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.'

Rhys Jones

'Total shock': Melanie Jones arrives for the start of the trial with husband Steven

Mrs Lynch had been one of the drinkers outside the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth Park when she heard a 'loud pop'.

'I saw a male standing up with his legs apart,' she said. 'There was a mountain bike between his legs.

'He was holding a handgun in both hands with his arms outstretched.'

She then heard two more bangs before the gunman rode away, at which she realised a boy had fallen to the ground and rushed over. 'I saw that he was lying still,' she said.

'I saw there was blood coming out of his mouth. His head was facing to the right, his eyes were open, staring.

I said, 'Are you all right mate  -  where are you hurt?" He did not respond.'
Mrs Lynch said she attempted first aid at which blood started flowing from Rhys's nose and he made a 'gurgling' noise.

Dramatic evidence: This CCTV image allegedly shows the gunman on his bicycle

Dramatic evidence: This CCTV image allegedly shows the gunman on his bicycle

She then noticed a ' teardrop-shaped' wound about an inch long in his neck.

Her friend, Aimee Bolan, 26, said she had jumped up at the noise of what she thought was a firework, turned to see a youth with a gun, and screamed.

'He looked straight at me for about one second,' she said in her statement. 'I then heard two more bangs.'

The court also heard from a boy who saw the gunman ride past. As he cycled he was stuffing something in his jacket pocket, the boy added, and the bike wobbled.

The boy and his friend then ran to where the shots had come from and saw Rhys  -  who was still wearing his shin pads  -  lying on the ground.

Rhys had turned up at training on the day of his death, August 22 last year, dressed in a blue England shirt and blue shorts.

In his statement to police, team manager Steve Geoghegan said Rhys was a 'star player'.

He added: 'Rhys was in high spirits, we all had a great laugh together.'

Mr Geoghegan offered Rhys a lift home after training but he said he would walk. Then, as he drove past the Fir Tree pub, he saw Rhys fall to the ground and he ran to him. 'As soon as I saw Rhys I did think he had been killed,' he added.

Sean Mercer, then aged 16, denies murdering Rhys.

Mercer, allegedly a member of the Croxteth or Crocky Crew, is claimed to have shot Rhys by mistake as he was targeting members of the rival Strand Gang.

Also on trial are James Yates, 20, Melvin Coy, 25, and Gary Kays, 25, as well as two 17-year-olds and one 16-year-old. They deny assisting an offender.

Yates also denies supplying the Smith & Wesson .455 revolver with which Mercer, now 18, allegedly shot Rhys.

One of the 17-year-olds denies possession of a firearm.

The trial continues.

Football was his life

Rhys Jones had a happy upbringing and came from a close family, his mother said.

He was football-mad and an Everton supporter.

'He had a very stable, happy family upbringing,' Melanie Jones said in her statement. 'We're a very close family.'

Mrs Jones told how she and her husband Stephen had been married for 20 years and that they also had an older son, Owen, now aged 18.

'My son Rhys was a happy, outgoing child,' she said.

Rhys Jones

Tragic: Melanie Jones said in a statement that Rhys had a happy family upbringing

'His favourite sport was football, he supported Everton Football Club and he had a season ticket with his dad and brother.

'Rhys was a very good footballer. Football was his life and he had a very good circle of friends.'

Mrs Jones added that Rhys had just finished at Broad Square Junior School and had been due to start at Fazakerley High School when he was killed.

Mrs Jones said her son used to attend football practice with his team, the Fir Tree, every Wednesday evening.

On the night he was killed he left the house at 6.30pm but returned around ten minutes later because he had forgotten his subscription.

Mrs Jones drove him back to the practice ground.

An hour later there was a knock at the door and she found out he had been shot.

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