Police close in on Rhys suspect

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The Independent Online

Murder squad detectives appeared to closing in on the killer of 11-year-old Rhys Jones yesterday as a television appeal prompted new witnesses to come forward and four men were jailed for a gangland murder thought to be linked to the Croxteth shooting.

Twelve people gave Merseyside Police the same name after a BBC Crimewatch appeal featured CCTV images of a boy on a bike believed to be the killer. The force, which has been gathering evidence since the murder on 22 August, said it was examining the information given. "We cannot just go out and arrest that person," a spokeswoman said. "It is encouraging but we need to make further inquiries about why these people have all named the same person before we take any action."

It is understood that police spoke to one of their most important witnesses after the broadcast. After the killer left the murder scene, he crossed a road on his BMX bike, forcing a woman driving a red car to brake and swerve. She had stayed silent until Wednesday night's broadcast.

And yesterday four gang members were jailed over the murder of Liam Smith, 19, in August last year. He was a leader of the Strand Gang who are involved in a bloody feud with their rivals, the Croxteth Crew, in the Liverpool area where Rhys lived. Ryan Lloyd, 20, Thomas Forshaw, 18, and a 16-year-old boy were jailed for life and Liam Duffy, 26, was sentenced to 20 years.