Mum of Rhys Jones won’t watch Little Boy Blue because it’s ‘too upsetting’

The dad of murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones last week watched the TV dramatisation of his son's murder – and said: "It was upsetting and emotional."

Little Boy Blue was recently on our screens again, shown in four episodes, telling the story of how the 11-year-old was shot dead when caught in the crossfire of two gun-wielding gangs in Liverpool.

The fact-based crime series was originally broadcast in 2017, but it was aired again during the past week, retelling events surrounding arguably the most shocking crime in Merseyside's recent history.

Today, Rhys' dad – Steve – described how he had tuned in to watch the drama, which had proved a difficult experience, like always.

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The 57-year-old has a copy of the Little Boy Blue DVD, which he watches occasionally, but his wife Melanie, who was at her son's side in the Fir Tree car park pub in Croxteth, as he lay dying, has only seen it once, when it was first released.

She finds it too painful to watch again, her husband said.

Sinead Keenan as Mel Jones and Sonny Beyga as Rhys Jones.

Jeff Pope, who wrote the script for BAFTA-winning Little Boy Blue, was in touch with Rhys' dad last week ahead of the drama being re-shown.

And former Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, portrayed by Stephen Graham in the ITV drama, spoke to Melanie, in a similar conversation.

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Mr Jones told the ECHO: "I watch Little Boy Blue frequently.

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"It's a really good drama, Jeff Pope is immensely proud of it, and rightly so.

"When he called last week, he was asking how we were.

"The drama is well-written and well-made and accurate, we wouldn't have been part of it if it hadn't reflected what happened.

Paddy Rowan as Sean Mercer with gang members.

"I find it very upsetting to watch and powerful.

"Certainly, the first episode of the four is very raw and takes you right back to outside the pub.

"It's so emotive.

Speaking of his wife, Melanie, he added: "She watched it once when it came out, but never since.

"That's her choice.

"It's just too heartbreaking, why watch it when you have to live it every day?"

Stephen Graham as Dave Kelly in Little Boy Blue

Little Boy Blue tracks the whole incident and the subsequent police investigation, ending with the scenes within Liverpool Crown Court where killer Sean Mercer, gun supplier James Yates and their accomplices – all members of the Croxteth Crew – were convicted.

It explores the devastating impact the senseless murder had on Rhys' parents, along with how the killing impacted the whole of Liverpool.

Gang crime at the time, particularly in warring neighbourhoods of Norris Green and Croxteth and involving teenagers, some only children, had caused huge scars in parts of the city.

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Well-known Liverpool actor Stephen Graham took one of the starring roles in the drama, playing Dave Kelly, who won plaudits for bringing Mercer and his gang, involved in deadly clashes with the Norris Green Strand Gang, to justice.

The re-airing of Little Boy Blue has coincided with some breaking news surrounding Mercer with him launching a legal challenge to get out of jail ahead of time.

The thug was ordered to serve a minimum of 22 years, when he was jailed in 2008, meaning his earliest release date was 2030, at the age of 40.

Paddy Rowan as Sean Mercer.

But in a highly-controversial move, Mercer is attempting to cut that jail term, arguing he should be entitled to a sentence reduction because he was a juvenile when he murdered Rhys, in August 2007.

Under law in England and Wales, juveniles are entitled to a review of their minimum tariff, halfway through their sentence, now applicable to Mercer given he has served 11 years.

But Mercer was convicted and sentenced when he was 18, having become an adult, his appeal may stand on shaky ground.

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Also this week, it emerged how the child killer, now 29, has reportedly been chatting up a woman using an illicit mobile phone, hidden in jail.

Reports suggested he wrote to her, describing how he "accidentally hurt someone" and his hopes of becoming a dad with two children in the future.

The back and forth with the unnamed woman is said to have lasted for up to eight months, after contact was first made on Instagram, according to reports.

Filming of Little Boy Blue drama and Rhys Jones parents (actors) re-created on the pitch at Everton vs West Ham, Goodison Park, Liverpool. Photo by Colin Lane

She is now said to have broken off their chats after she also visited him in jail.

Rhys' dad told the ECHO: "It beggars belief how these things come out.

"There's got to be a way of discovering phones in prison, I don't accept there's no way to track it.

"Now it's known Mercer has a phone, the authorities should be all over him.

"It's galling that he has access to one."

James Yates, as played by James Nelson-Joyce

Mercer was 16 when he pulled the trigger than led to Rhys' murder and left the scene on his mountain bike and going on the run.

His gang accomplice Yates supplied the Smith and Wesson gun used to shoot Rhys before helping him to dispose of his bike, clothes and the firearm he gave him minutes before the murder.