Boy, 5, was killed in attack on stepfather

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The Independent Online
A FIVE-YEAR-OLD boy was shot dead in a street close to his home by a gunman trying to murder his stepfather, a court in Preston heard yesterday.

Dillon Hull was the victim of a feud between warring drugs factions that erupted in a residential area of Bolton. Dillon died instantly in the attack. His stepfather, John Bates, suffered severe wounds.

Preston Crown Court was told that Dillon was "a tragic and innocent victim of a bungled attempt to murder his stepfather".

Paul Seddon, 27, from Bolton, denies murdering the boy in the daylight shooting last August and attempting to murder Mr Bates. David Hargreaves, 24, Craig Hollinrake, 25, and Brian Roper, 22, all from Bolton, deny conspiring with Mr Seddon to murder Mr Bates.

Anthony Gee QC, for the prosecution, said the shooting took place after Mr Bates, a drug dealer, had come into conflict with a gang of which Mr Hargreaves was a member. By obtaining drugs more cheaply in Blackburn, Mr Bates - who was living with Dillon's mother, Jane Hull - was able to undercut the gang on their home turf. As a result he became a target.

On the day of the shooting, Dillon had been playing with a friend. When he failed to return home at 4.30pm, Mr Bates went to fetch him. As they were walking back, hand in hand, the gunman struck.

"He [Mr Bates] was confronted by a man wearing a motorcycle helmet who drew a gun and began firing," said Mr Gee. The gunman fired two shots, one hitting Mr Bates in the side, the other hitting Dillon in the head, killing him instantly. After the shooting, the gunman fled the scene, throwing away the helmet he was wearing and abandoning a yellow Metro car he had driven to the scene. Mr Seddon's fingerprints were found on the helmet and the car, Mr Gee said.

The court heard that Mr Hargreaves' gang had tried to recruit Mr Bates. "The consequence of his refusal was ... the decision ... to shoot him, probably as a warning to others that they intended to preserve their territory and enforce their will," Mr Gee said.

The court was told that there had been a previous attempt on Mr Bates' life when a gunman fired into his home, narrowly missing his head. Mr Gee said Mr Seddon had planned to kill Mr Bates by knocking on his door and shooting him. The trial continues.