Rhys Jones’ family slam teen killer’s attempt to cut sentence for shooting boy, 11

The family of Rhys Jones have slammed his killer’s attempt to have his jail sentence reduced.

Sean Mercer was 16 when he murdered the popular 11-year-old child who had just finished football practice in 2007.

Rhys was an innocent victim amid a crime war between gun-toting rival gangs in Croxteth and Norris Green in Liverpool.

Mercer was jailed in 2008 and ordered to serve at least 22 years, meaning his earliest release date was 2030, at the age of 40.

He was a prominent member of the notorious Croxteth Crew gang, and is now attempting to reduce 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 nearly 13 years ago.

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, so his appeal may stand on shaky ground.

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

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 said : “We’re not happy Mercer is doing this.

“He’s got his sentence and he had a fair trial.

“He’s just trying to get out as soon as he can, he should serve his full 22-year tariff.

“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.”

He 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.”

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

It is understood 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.

If Mercer’s appeal was successful, he would still need to apply to the Parole Board to consider if he was fit to be released.

Mercer shot Rhys outside the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth Park before leaving the scene on his mountain bike and going on the run.

His gang accomplice James 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.

Last month, it was revealed how “Yatesy” had been released from jail, having served the 12 year sentence for possession of a firearm and assisting an offender.

Mercer chose to run an 11-week trial at Liverpool Crown Court, denying the murder, but was found unanimously guilty.

Mr Justice Irwin delivered withering sentencing remarks to him and his fellow gang members, explaining how they were not the “soldiers” they claimed to be.

The judge told Mercer and his cohorts: “You have no discipline, no training, no honour.

“You do not command respect.

“You may think you do, but that is because you cannot tell the difference between respect and fear.

“You are selfish, shallow criminals, remarkable only by the danger you pose to others.”

Mercer attempted to appeal his sentence in 2009, but it was then decided to withdraw it.

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