Devastated mum led from home blindfolded after son, 20, shot dead through window

News

A devastated mum was led from her family home in a blindfold to save her the agony of seeing her son’s murder scene.

Michael Rainsford, 20, was shot twice through the kitchen window of his family home in a revenge attack that targeted the wrong man.

Two brothers, Michael and James Foy, were yesterday handed life sentences for murdering the young man.

A poignant statement penned by Michael’s dad, Michael Rainsford senior, revealed in harrowing detail the anguish caused by the killing of the talented skateboarder.

It was read to a courtroom sat in heartbroken silence before the judge, Justice Dove, said he had no doubt Michael’s death was a loss to the community.

Mr Rainsford’s words, read by prosecutor Henry Riding, highlighted his son’s love for his mum and the steps taken to protect her from the agony of seeing the murder scene.

This included leading her from the family home blindfolded so she did not have to witness the destruction caused by Michael and James Foy.

Michael, like his siblings, was nicknamed a “miracle baby” by nurses after he was born despite fears health issues suffered by mum, Joanne, would leave her unable to give birth.

His dad recalled his son’s smile “that would light up a room” and his “caring nature”, which attracted lifelong friendships and developed further when he started to care for Mrs Rainsford as a teenager.

Mr Rainsford wrote: “My heart swells when I think of the love, care and devotion Michael showed to his mum.”

Shy in his early years, Michael’s life changed when he picked up a skateboard at the age of seven.

His talent was a constant source of pride for his family.

Mr Rainsford’s statement said: “When Michael picked up a skateboard he changed his life.

“Michael’s shyness and anxiety slowly ebbed away. Michael became confident and just kept improving his skill every time he went skateboarding.

“Our holidays were now geared around the skateboard parks all around the UK and any events or skateboard competitions.

“My shy little boy had grown with his ability and skills, Michael would always be the last person out of the skate park, such was his enthusiasm.

“I would watch my son on his skateboard and be so proud of how talented he had become. Other skaters would stop and watch him and bang their boards in appreciation of his skills.”

As he became older, Michael’s artistic talent came to the fore in his photography, his dad recalling: “I always wondered what had caught his eye. Michael had an eye for capturing the beauty in landscapes, scenery, buildings and people.”

But a lifetime of milestones and pride was ripped from the Rainsford family last year, when he was struck by two bullets fired through his kitchen window.

The Foys were convicted of murder over the attack, with James today admitting he was the gunman – having denied involvement in the shooting and putting the victim’s family through the agony of a trial.

Mr Rainsford was with his son at the time.

He detailed the horrific scenes that followed: “Time has stood still for me, my family and Michael’s friends since 11.08pm on Tuesday, April 7 when evil visited our family home.

“I was standing right next to my son Michael in our family kitchen.

“In a split second our family life was broken and changed forever.

“I witnessed it. The night-time silence was broken by the violence of the two bullets ripping through our kitchen window in our family home and I witnessed my son being shot and murdered.

“The first bullet hit Michael, the second bullet also hit Michael as he tried to run past where I was standing.

“The second bullet was either meant for the moving Michael or possibly me as I was standing right where Michael was hit for the second time.”

The last time Mrs Rainsford saw Michael alive was when he was being placed in an ambulance outside their Harrington Road home.

While he was being taken to hospital, Mr Rainsford said: “The last task Josh [Michael’s brother] and myself undertook was to guide Michael’s mum and sister down the stairs blindfolded.

“This was so they did not witness the trauma of seeing Michael’s blood on our family hall floor.”

The funeral took place at the height of the first coronavirus lockdown, forcing the family to grieve amid stringent restrictions that meant Michael’s life could not be celebrated in the manner he deserved.

Yet his community still rallied in support, friends, neighbours, fellow skateboarders and Litherland High School teachers lining the route taken by the hearse and applauding in tribute.

Of the ongoing impact of his son’s death, Mr Rainsford said: “Our family have an ongoing life full of fears, torments and regrets. And magical future family milestones that will never be archived… so many milestones have been stolen, ripped away from Michael in the cruellest, most violent way.

“Whatever lay in our family’s collective future or over the horizon will never be ours as all our memories that were yet to be made have been destroyed forever by the senseless, barbaric murder of my son.”

The final words read by Mr Riding came from Mrs Rainsford, who touchingly said: “My heart aches every single day for my son. I want him back. I do not understand why he was murdered and taken away from me.

“We limp on as a forever broken family, bereft of the warmth, love, care and support Michael gave us, which is now forever gone.”

The Foy brothers were found guilty of a murder described by prosecutors as an “act of supposed retribution”.

Just under an hour before the shooting their home on Rossini Street, Seaforth, was bricked.

But, their trial was told, Michael had played no role in that attack.

James Foy, 19, was jailed for life with a minimum of 28 years after also being convicted of possession of a gun found in a Bootle home in 2019.

Michael Foy, 22, was jailed for life with a minimum of 30 years.

Their uncle, Craig Johnson, 39, was sentenced to three years; their mum, Joyce Smith, 46, to 30 months and their neighbour, 48-year-old Andrea Saunderson, to 18 months suspended for two years.

All three were convicted of perverting the course of justice through their actions after the shooting.