A BRUTAL gunman deliberately shot Dillon Hull, his devastated step-father believes.

Police today said John Bates,had told them the killer waited until the boy was with him before opening fire.

Officers revealed that Mr Bates spotted the gunman in the yellow Mini Metro minutes before he began to walk with Dillon to the shop.

Detective Supterintendent Peter Ellis said: "Mr Bates has told us he feels the gunman had ample opportunity to shoot him while he was on his own."

Greater Manchester Police Authority today offered a £10,000 reward for anyone who could lead them to the killer as Mr Bates and Dillon's mum Jane Hull moved back to their terrace home in Jauncey Street.

They refused the offer of a secret safe house.

Mr Ellis added: "After careful consideration we have agreed with their wishes to move back to their home."

Extra police have been moved into the area to protect the family and their neighbours.

A post-mortem examination carried out on Dillon revealed he was shot once in the head. Mr Ellis said: "The only comfort that can be drawn from our findings is that Dillon died instantly."

Mr Ellis said the family had asked to be left alone to grieve and would not answer any questions.

The detective refused to comment on information about individuals who could be behind the shooting.

He said: "Lines of inquiry are continuing and it is not appropriate for me to comment on matters which could harm the investigation."

Judge warned tragic Dillon's mum

A Judge publicly warned the mother of murdered five-year-old Dillon Hull to protect him from the drugs underworld, it was revealed today.

Crown Court Recorder Arthur Noble gave Jane Hull the stark caution last year after she admitted allowing boyfriend John Bates to sell heroin at the house she shared with the youngster in Walsh Street, Blackburn.

Tragically Dillon was shot trying to protect Bates, whom he regarded as a father, in what police believe was a drug-related revenge attack on a Bolton street.

The callous gunman pumped two bullets into the little boy at close range in a shooting which left Mr Bates, 28, with a stomach wound.

Burnley Crown Court heard that Jane Hull had tried to remove Bates from her life because she hated his drug use, but took him back because she was "fond of him".

The judge said Jane appeared to have been "dominated" by her boyfriend and that he was prepared to spare her from a jail sentence for the sake of her young son. Judge Noble placed the mother on probation for two years and said he hoped she would not have her partner back unless he had "weaned off" drugs.

He added: "I hope that you will bring your son up properly and make sure he doesn't have any such involvement.

"I hope you don't leave this building in any sense feeling that you have been let off."

Jane Hull appeared before the court when Dillon, a former pupil of Longshaw County Primary School, Blackburn, was three years old.

Bates, who had escaped an attempt on his life hours before the attack on Wednesday, was given a 21-month sentence for drug dealing.

He told the court his girlfriend, who had also lived in Mosley Street, Blackburn, had "turned a blind eye" so that he could fund his heroin addiction.

Nick Courtenay, prosecuting, told Burnley Crown Court that police who carried out observations at the house arrested two visitors and found they had heroin on them.

Mr Mark Stuart, defending, said Dillon had regarded Bates as his father.

Blackburn relatives of Dillon laid wreaths at the spot where he was gunned down last night.

Family and friends from East Lancashire travelled to the street in the Deane area of Bolton where Dillon had lived for just a few weeks with his mother and step-father.

DNA file may turn up killer

Detectives hunting the killer of toddler Dillon Hull may already have a sample of his DNA on file.

And any clues left at the scene of the tragic shooting could be compared with information already held in police records in a bid to lead detectives to their man. Forces throughout the country have adopted a policy of taking DNA samples from people arrested for serious offences in the last two years.

If the gunman has been arrested during that time, police will have a "genetic fingerprint" to compare with blood or any body fluids found at the scene.

As the hunt for the killer who murdered Dillon outside his Bolton home continued today, the parents of the youngster's former classmates at Blackburn's Longshaw County Primary School spoke of their horror on hearing of his death.

Victoria McCammon, whose daughter Toni was in Dillon's class said: "I found out about it from the news but at first they just said a five-year-old from Bolton had been shot. There were no details.

"Even then it was shocking, but to find out that we had known him...it was horrific. He was a lovely little boy."

Mrs McCammon, of Rockcliffe Street, Longshaw, Blackburn, said she would not tell her daughter what had happened to Dillon.

"I can't tell her. She is too young. It is too much for me to take so how can I explain it to a five-year-old when I can't understand it myself?"

Another mother of one of Dillon's classmates at Longshaw, who asked not to be named, said: "He was a happy kid. He used to play with my daughter on the street and he was always laughing."

Detectives interviewing Dillon's step-father today hoped he knew the killer. John Bates was taken to a hospital under guard and the location was kept secret as police feared a second attempt on his life.

Police believe the shooting was a revenge attack linked to drugs dealing.

Dillon's mother, Jane Hull, who had a baby boy only three days ago, has been at Mr Bates's bedside and is receiving counselling.

Police are also investigating an attempt on Mr Bates's life at the family's terrace house on Tuesday night.

Mr Bates and Dillon were sitting in the front room of their home in Jauncy Street when a bullet smashed the window.

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