LONDON (Reuters) - The mother of a schoolboy shot dead on his bicycle in Manchester said on Tuesday her son was murdered because he refused to join a criminal gang.
Speaking outside the inquest into Jessie James’s death, Barbara Reid said his refusal had humiliated gang members.
The 15-year-old was shot dead last September in Moss Side, an inner city area with a reputation for gang-related violence.
“The gangsters made his life a living hell,” Reid told reporters outside Manchester Crown Court. “Jessie was cornered, pointed out and intimidated at every successive opportunity.
“He was coerced and compelled to join the gang. Time and time again up until his death Jessie humiliated the gangs to their face by saying ‘No’.
“This infuriated the gangs and because they could not stand Jessie’s rejection, they killed him.
“I am told Jessie showed incredible strength when challenged by these gangs who took his life because they could not stand a 15-year-old boy’s rejection.”
The coroner took the unusual step of holding the inquest into the teenager’s death in a criminal court to protect witnesses afraid of reprisals.
Witnesses can give evidence anonymously behind screens and with their voices distorted.
Police said some people have been reluctant to come forward because they fear for themselves and their families.
There have been a series of shootings in Manchester in recent months, but police have denied that gun crime is out of control in the city.
Reid said she would continue to fight to find her son’s killers.
“Jessie was snatched away from me without even saying goodbye,” she said. “Justice is what I seek and justice is my utmost desire.”