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JUDGE TAKES JURY THROUGH BOY C EVIDENCE; Final summing up before they retire MURDER TRIAL.

Byline: by BEN ROSSINGTON

JURORS in the Rhys Jones murder trial were told to treat evidence from the prosecution's star witness "very carefully" when they retire to consider their verdict today.

The panel of seven women and five men yesterday sat through a second day of the judge's summing up at Liverpool crown court.

Mr Justice Irwin, a high court judge, began his summing up last Thursday, but jury illness and prior engagements forced him to wait until yesterday to take it further.

He spent much of the day looking in depth at the evidence given by 17-year-old Boy C.

The Croxteth teenager hid the alleged murder weapon in his house after the shooting on August 22 last year until police found it on September 30 last year, when they raided his address.

After returning from a family holiday in the USA, he was interviewed as a suspect and consideration was given to charging him with various offences - but eventually he was offered immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony.

During his evidence, he said he was summoned by alleged killer Sean Mercer to the home of another defendant, Boy M, and given a .455 Smith and Wesson revolver to conceal, which he put in his dog kennel before it was moved, allegedly by defendant Boy K, into the loft. His account of events was slammed as "lies" by barristers acting for various defendants, and his character was called into question several times.

Mr Justice Irwin told the jury: "Please concentrate on the credibility and evidence of Boy C. You might on one view reach the conclusion he was more implicated with gang members than he has said.

"You may believe he was worthy and deserving o being prosecuted rather than being given immunity. But that is not the point. It would be wrong to skew your view if you think he got off lightly.

That is not the point."

The judge then talked through phone records from around the time police raided Boy C's home and found the alleged murder weapon.

Within eight minutes, Mercer's phone was trying to contact Boy C's sister, who was with him in Florida.

Mercer rang 13 times in 15 minutes, "an intensive effort, you may think, to contact him in America," the judge said.

In his first interview, on the Crown's case, Boy C gave a brief outline of the accounts he would later flesh out and put before the jury.

The account then was the basis of his evidence now, the judge said.

But, he added, the defence teams put forward that Boy C had time to consider his story while on his way back from the USA and was sticking to that account.

Mr Justice Irwin said: "There is a price for him in all of this. Although he has been granted immunity from prosecution, he cannot return to Croxteth and has had to relocate elsewhere.

"Take it all together, look carefully, very carefully at the credibility of Boy C, but when you do, remember that the conclusion is, is he telling the truth when he describes the events that evening?"

The jury was also taken through the complicated evidence surrounding firearm discharge residue.

The judge talked to them about the evidence surrounding Type One residue and Type Two residue, which came from expert Angela Shaw.

This is the evidence Mercer's team says "cripples" the prosecution case because particles found on the blown-out window of a silver BMW, said to be hit by the gunman's first shot, do not match those found on the fatal wound on Rhys, who was killed by the second shot, indicating they were not shot by the same gun.

The judge said: "In the end, she Ms Shaw came back to the formula she had essentially begun with - it is unlikely but not impossible on her evidence that this was the gun that fired those three shots. If the link between this weapon and the shooting was looked at in terms of firearms discharge on its own, you could not be sure it was the murder weapon. If that was all you had to base your decision on, you could not be sure.

"But the Crown say other evidence taken together can make you sure.

"Does the other evidence in the case make you sure it was the murder weapon? On the facts of this case, if you are not sure it was the murder weapon, you cannot be sure Sean Mercer committed the murder."

During the day, Boy M, James Yates and Mercer were all taken ill.

Mr Justice Irwin was set to finish his summing up this morning and send the jury out to begin their deliberations.

(Proceeding)

THE TRIAL

RHYS Jones was shot and killed as he walked home from football practice at around 7.30pm on Wednesday August 22 last yea r.

He was making his way across the car park of the Fir Tree pub, in Fir Tree Drive South, Croxteth Park, when a bullet hit him in the neck.

He was pronounced dead at 8.46pm by doctors at Alder Hey hospital after being taken there by paramedics.

Sean Mercer, 18, of Good Shepherd Close, Croxteth, is charged with murdering 11-year-old Rhys on August 22 last year.

He is joined in the dock by James Ya tes, 20, of Dodman Road, Croxteth; Gary Kays, 26, of Mallard Close, Croxteth Park; Melvin Coy, 25, of Abbeyfield Drive, and Nathan Quinn previously Boy Q, 18, of Wicket Close, both Croxteth.

There are also two juvenile defendants, a 17-year-old only identifiable as Boy K and 16-year-old Boy M.

They are all charged with assisting an offender.

Ya tes is also charged with possessing a prohibited firearm, a Smith and Wesson .455 revolver - the alleged murder weapon.

Boy K is also accused of possessing two firearms and ammunition.

They all deny the charges.

CAPTION(S):

IN COURT: Nathan Quinn, Gary Kays, Melvin Coy, James Yates. Other defendants cannot be identified for legal reasons
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 10, 2008
Words:1000
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