The killer of schoolboy Rhys Jones used an illicit phone to message a woman he met online – and has now been pictured for the first time since he was jailed.
Sean Mercer, now 29, was sentenced to life with a minimum of 22 years after shooting dead 11-year-old Rhys as he walked home from football training in Liverpool in August 2007.
Now it has emerged Mercer has been messaging a woman from within his cell after liking one of her comments on Instagram last August, the Sun reports.
Mercer, seen in a £120 Ralph Lauren jumper in his first picture since being jailed, told her he was a model prisoner who deserves to be set free – writing that he was in jail after ‘accidentally’ hurting someone.
Mercer had told the woman during their eight-month relationship that he had aspirations of becoming a father to one or two children once he is released.
Sean Mercer is seen here in his first photo since he was jailed for life with a minimum of 22 years after shooting dead 11-year-old Rhys Jones
Despite his 22-year minimum term, Mercer can apply for a review halfway through his sentence because he was sentenced as a juvenile.
But revelations of a secret phone could hamper his legal bid for a reduction in his sentence.
A source said: ‘This kind of behaviour goes to the heart of what Mercer is like.
‘On the one hand he’s trying to play the system by claiming he’s a reformed character so he can get out of prison earlier.
‘On the other, rather than sticking to the rules, he’s openly using a mobile phone to have a relationship with a woman on the outside.’
Mercer’s case will be heard before a High Court judge, and if it is found he has made ‘exceptional progress’ he could then apply for parole.
Rhys’s father Stephen Jones said that Mercer ‘had a fair trial’ and should serve his full 22 years.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen said that Mercer’s eight-month relationship shows that he has ‘no regard for the law’, and it will be ‘heartbreaking’ for the victim’s parents to hear how he had a romantic relationship when their son was shot dead before he could experience a proper girlfriend.
11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot dead as he walked home from football training in August 2007
Everton fan Rhys was returning from football practice in Croxteth, Liverpool, on 22 August 2007, when he inadvertently walked into a gang fight and was shot in the neck.
Sean Mercer, then aged 16, was a member of the Croxteth Crew and involved in a bitter territorial dispute with the Strand Gang.
When he heard they had strayed onto his ‘patch’, he cycled on his BMX bike to the Fir Tree pub armed with a First World War Smith & Wesson revolver and fired three times at his rivals.
The second shot hit Rhys in the back and he died at the scene, in the arms of his mother, Melanie, who rushed to see her son when she heard the news.
Mercer’s female companion visited him three times in prison. She said he told her he had ‘hung round with the wrong people’ and had accidentally hurt someone.
She said Mercer was not the person he was made out to be in media depictions, and the killing ‘eats him up’.
She added that 6ft Mercer ‘doesn’t get grief’ in prison and he said people don’t ‘f*** around with him’.
The new image was said to have been taken inside HMP Frankland, County Durham, in 2019.
Just one year earlier Rhys’s parents said they would ‘never forgive’ his killer, and hoped he is never freed from prison.
Mel and Steve Jones said the ‘void’ left by their son’s death has never gone away and ‘never will’.
Sean Mercer, now 29, was jailed for life with a minimum of 22 years after shooting dead Rhys
Asked how she felt about the man who took her son’s life, Mrs Jones said: ‘I don’t hate him. It uses up too much of your energy. I will never forgive him. Ever.’
Mr Jones added: ‘We are a great believer that life should mean life, just like America… if he had handed himself in… he never thought about us for one moment.’
On seeing him in court, Mrs Jones: ‘He [Mercer] had such a baby face. The first thing that went through my mind, ‘It’s just a child killing another child, why is this happening?’.’
When asked whether her son was ‘in the wrong place at the wrong time’, Mrs Jones said the expression left her infuriated.
She said: ‘It drives me insane. It makes me so angry. He wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time.
‘He was doing what he should be doing. He was walking home from football training.
‘He was just happy out on a summer’s night. I hate saying this man’s name, it was Sean Mercer who shouldn’t have been there.’
Source: Daily Mail – Articles