Killer had boy in his sights

`The man in the yellow Metro has chosen to carry out that attack when John Bates was with Dillon'
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The Independent Online
A heroin dealer whose five-year-old stepson was killed in a drug-feud shooting has told detectives that he believes the boy was deliberately targeted.

Before returning to his home under heavy police guard yesterday, John Bates, the stepfather of Dillon Hull, revealed that his assailant has waited until the child victim was by his side before opening fire.

Dillon was shot through the head and Mr Bates suffered a minor stomach wound in the attack last Wednesday.

Angry residents in Deane, Bolton, Greater Manchester, launched a petition yesterday to have Mr Bates, 28, and Dillon's mother, Jane Hull, 29, moved from their home in Jauncey Street as it emerged that both had appeared in court last year on heroin dealing-related charges.

Then, Mr Bates was jailed for 21 months, while Recorder Arthur Noble, sitting at Burnley Crown Court, put Ms Hull on probation with the warning: "I hope that you will bring your son up properly and make sure he doesn't have any such involvement [with drugs]."

However, his warning went unheeded. Ms Hull gave birth to another boy, Codie, three weeks ago which, according to her father, Robert Hull, was born a heroin addict.

"He was born addicted to drugs," Mr Hull told the Manchester Evening News. "That's why he's still in hospital. Jane is a registered heroin addict."

Bolton Social Services said there had been no care orders relating to either Dillon or Codie, but a spokesman said the family was "known" to social workers.

Detective Superintendent Peter Ellis, the man leading the murder inquiry, said Mr Bates had been able to give him a full account of the attack before discharging himself from hospital and returning home in the early hours of yesterday.

Mr Ellis said the assailant had waited in a yellow Metro while Mr Bates was alone in the street looking for Dillon. Once he found the boy, the gunman launched his attack.

"Mr Bates believes that the man had every opportunity to attack him at that time but, for reasons best known to that individual, he did not take that opportunity," said Mr Ellis.

"The man in the yellow Metro has chosen to carry out that attack ... when John Bates was with Dillon. To me, that demonstrates the callous nature of the man I am looking for." Greater Manchester Police yesterday offered a pounds 10,000 reward for information leading to the killer's conviction.

The decision to allow Mr Bates to return home was taken after long consultations with police but it provoked an angry response from neighbours.

"We had to respect their wishes to return to their home and their community" said Mr Ellis.

"There is a increased uniformed presence and we have taken other measures to guarantee the safety of the bereaved family and people of Deane."

However, many residents said Mr Bates's return spelled danger for their children.

"I am absolutely furious that they should let him back here" said Bert Plimley, 58. "I feel very sorry for what has happened but there are repercussions for other people. I have 14 grandchildren, but there's no way I can let them visit while he's here."

Details of Ms Hull's court case, published in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph, showed that she only avoided a jail sentence for allowing her home to be used for drug dealing because she had Dillon.

Mr Bates told the court that she had "turned a blind eye" to his dealing so he could fund his own heroin addiction.

The court was told that Ms Hull had tried to remove Mr Bates from her home because of his drug abuse but she allowed him back because she was "fond" of him.

Judge Noble said he would spare her from jail for the sake of Dillon and so put her on probation for two years instead. He said Ms Hull appeared to have been "dominated" by Mr Bates and advised her not to allow him back into her home until he had weaned himself off heroin.

However, instead of weaning Mr Bates off heroin, it appears that she became hooked on the drug herself.

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