Rhys Jones killer’s bid for freedom that should never be allowed

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Rhys Jones killer Sean Mercer is expected to make a big for his freedom after being jailed for life over the 11-year-old's murder.

Young Rhys was shot dead on his way home from football in 2007.

An innocent child caught up, quite literally, in the middle of a bloody feud between gangs in Croxteth and Norris Green.

Killer Mercer, who was 16 when he fired the fatal shot which killed 11-year-old Rhys , but 18 when sentenced, was jailed for a minimum of 22 years.

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He was helped in various ways by 10 other people, including his mother. Nine of them were jailed, but many have since been released.

Earlier this week, Rhys' heartbroken father Steve Jones told the ECHO that Mercer is now attempting to cut his jail term.

His lawyers are set to argue he should be entitled to a sentence reduction because he was a juvenile, aged 16, when he murdered Rhys, in August 2007.

Steve added: "We're not happy Mercer is doing this.

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"You read certain things that Mercer is a changed person, but like the others in his gang have proved, they've been in more trouble since Rhys was killed.

"I don't think he's changed."

Rhys Jones was murdered in Liverpool, aged 11, in 2007. His killer Sean Mercer was sentenced to 22 years in prison

Thousands of people across Liverpool agreed with Mr Jones, branding Mercer as "cruel and disgusting" for even attempting to get early release.

Many also echoed the phrase "he hasn't changed" while others remembered how Mercer acted towards Rhys' family following the murder.

The killer tried desperately to cover his tracks before disrupting the court that convicted him on numerous occasions.

Despite reports that Mercer has turned his life around, many people have also said that he'd become a prominent gang leader within high-security northeast jail HMP Frankland.

After news of the cocky attempt was made known to the public, it is important to remember exactly what Mercer did, how he behaved and why his attempt to be freed is so hurtful to Rhys' family and the city of Liverpool.

Tributes left outside outside Goodison for Rhys

Here is everything you need to know about Rhys Jones' killer Sean Mercer.

What do you need to know about Sean Mercer?

Sean Mercer was a coward who used a gun to solve disputes and boost his street image.

The school drop-out spent his time riding the streets on his distinctive £300 mountain bike and hanging around the homes of his layabout friends and smoking cannabis.

But what made Mercer different was his deadly interest in the senseless gang feud that raged on the streets near his home – and his willingness to pick up a gun.

Sean Mercer is still behind bars for murdering Rhys Jones

Smirking Mercer treated trial like maths lesson he wished he could have bunked off

After Rhys' murder and the lengthy police investigation that was necessary to catch Mercer and the gang of thugs who tried to cover his tracks, the teenage killer continued to show his contempt and general disregard of Rhys' family.

For more than 10 weeks Rhys Jones’s mum and dad had to watch their son’s killer swagger in to court.

Always the last to enter, Sean Mercer would strut arrogantly into the glass-fronted dock.

Pursing his lips and with head held high, the teenager would survey the court knowing all eyes were on him before taking his seat alongside his fellow gang members.

Rhys Jones pictured with his brother Owen, as parents Mel and Steve appear on This Morning

No sign of respect, let alone remorse has ever flickered across his young features.

Instead the school drop-out behaved like the case was nothing more than a maths lesson he wishes he could have bunked off.

Laughing and joking with his co-accused, he showed no sign of caring his future was being determined by those in front of him.

Nor that many in the public gallery were suffering untold pain because of his actions.

As the lengthy and detailed evidence unfolded, day after day, Mercer chatted with his co-defendants.

Sean Mercer pictured in secret filming, shown on Channel 5 show – The clues that caught the killer

Leaning forward he would smirk and snigger with James Yates and Dean Kelly.

At other times the slight teenager would lean his head back so he could chat with self-confessed Croxteth Crew comrade Nathan Quinn.

Even during periods of restraint the group never failed to show their disdain – fidgeting, yawning, stretching.

But regularly their chatter, unchecked by the security guards surrounding them, would break into open laughter.

And shockingly, the remorseless yob was heard during his trial to hiss: “All this over a kid.”

Dignified and composed throughout, Melanie and Stephen Jones could only be amazed at Mercer’s contempt for the memory of their beloved son.

Prison letters reveal Mercer's cushy lifestyle in jail

Mercer has reportedly owned up to killing the 11-year-old in a series of letters sent to a woman from his prison cell.

The highly revealing letters, reported on in 2017, give details on how Mercer is spending his time in prison, where he is serving a minimum 22-year sentence for the brutal killing of the Croxteth schoolboy.

The letters reveal the cushy lifestyle enjoyed by Mercer – by now in his mid twenties – at maximum security Frankland prison, in County Durham. As well as studying for an Open University degree, he cooks his own food and works out every day in the gym.

Mercer is serving his sentence at HMP Frankland

But it is his “confession” to the killing in the handwritten letters – obtained by Mail Online – which is the most striking, along with with his self-pitying description of himself as being “unlucky” for what happened.

In the letters, which are strewn with grammatical errors, he writes: “I have to live with what happened every day and it’s horrible, as I’ve said it kills me inside,

"I didn’t know the little lad had been hit until hours later. I didn’t see him, I found out on the night time. It’s a s**t situation.

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“I can’t help but think I’m unlucky, I guarantee I wouldn’t of been still in the gangs it would have been more along the lines of being shot and killed myself before I realised the reality of what I was doing sunk in!”

He went on to say that he is unrecognisable from the police mugshot of him taken 10 years ago, writing: “I look mad different now. I train every day in the gym so I’m in pretty good shape.

A floral tribute to murdered school boy Rhys Jones

“I’ve grown up a bit really, that picture they blast everywhere was when I was 16, I looked proper young on that. I was only small then, I’m over six foot now.”

Reports of drug dealing and 'making a fortune' while serving his sentence

In 2019 it was reported that Mercer heads up a violent faction within the high-security North East jail HMP Frankland.

His gang was said to oversee the supply of drugs including marijuana and mind-bending synthetic drug Spice.

Mercer, who has been behind bars for more than a decade, is also claimed to have influence over the distribution of mobile phones – which are illegal behind bars – and alcohol.

A senior prison source has been quoted as saying that Mercer’s gang can charge up to £100 for an A4 size sheet of paper which has been soaked in Spice.

Polcie cordon in Croxteth after Rhys' murder

The Daily Star reported that the source said: “Mercer is the drugs kingpin inside Frankland.

"He controls the trade through fear but never gets his hands dirty.

“He has a network of people working for him on both the inside and outside and he’s making a lot of money.”

A Ministry of Justice spokesman said that it would not comment on individual prisoners.

Killer shamelessly tried to sue ITV over Little Boy Blue

Producers at ITV scoffed at an attempt from Sean Mercer to sue them over drama series Little Boy Blue.

The four-part programme touched the hearts of people across the world as the story of Rhys' tragic death was retold.

Mercer reportedly considered legal action over the heartbreaking four part programme Little Boy Blue

But the show didn't sit so well with Mercer, who reportedly considered approaching lawyers over his depiction in the programme.

At the time, Steve Jones told the ECHO: "Jeff (producer) said to me that reports said Mercer might sue for defamation of character – but Jeff rightly said, he hasn’t got any character.

“He’s a murderer. He can’t sue. He has no standing or character to be damaged. He’s got nothing.”

Rhys' family can't have their life sentence cut – why should Mercer?

Steve and Melanie Jones, Rhys' parents, were alerted to a possible legal challenge by their son's killer in recent months.

Mel and Steve Jones

Probation Service bosses asked them to compose a victim impact statement, detailing the devastation Mercer's actions had caused, and why they objected to his latest jail bid.

Their account was written and sent off, but the Jones' have not heard anything further.

Steve added: ""These updates about how one of them is trying to challenge things, it brings Rhys' murder back to us all the time.

"Mel gets these phone calls and it takes her back to the car park when she went to find Rhys all those years ago."

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Once lodged, Mercer's application would be heard at the High Court.

The ECHO understands it is yet to be lodged, but those close to him have been working on the appeal, and it could be filed soon.

Tariff reductions will only be granted if the court feels the offender has made exceptional progress whilst in prison.

The Ministry of Justice is aware of Mercer's latest legal challenge, but did not wish to comment.

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