THE callous killer of schoolboy Rhys Jones belongs to a notorious crime family with links to a drugs kingpin once dubbed the UK’s Pablo Escobar.
Sean Mercer was just 16 when he gunned down 11-year-old Rhys by accident during a gangland feud on the streets of Liverpool.
4Janette Mercer outside Liverpool Crown Court in 2009Credit: News Group Newspapers Ltd4Joseph McCormick attends Liverpool Crown Court during his son’s murder trialCredit: Mercury Press AgencyHe was jailed for life with a minimum of 22 years for the horrific crime that shocked the nation.
Mercer opened fire at rival gang members , firing shots across a pub car park. Rhys, on his way home from playing football, was hit in the neck and died.
The crime was met with widespread revulsion and led to a massive police manhunt for the killer.
Mr Justice Irwin, who jailed Mercer, told the teenager that he was a shallow criminal. He said: “This offence arose from the stupid, brutal gang conflict which has struck this part of Liverpool. You were caught up in that from a young age, but it is clear you gloried in it.
“It is wrong to let anyone glorify or romanticise this kind of gang conflict. You are not soldiers.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.”
Sean’s mum Janette has now begun a nine month prison sentence.
On Monday Liverpool Crown Court heard how Janette, 63, who pleaded guilty to assisting an offender, let her son Joseph live with her while he was wanted by police in relation to drug dealing on the south coast.
Jailing Mercer, Judge David Potter told how Joseph had bullied her in her own home. He said that she lied to police because she was scared of what Joseph might do.
Joseph Mercer had returned to his mum’s house after he served out a 30 month sentence for drug offences.
The Mercer family were already notorious across Merseyside , mainly due to Sean’s 2008 conviction for murderingschoolboy Rhys Jones.
Sean , a teenage member of the city’s Croxteth Crew gang, was aiming for members of a rival gang from Norris Green when he shot 11-year-old Rhys by accident.
After the murder Janette lied to police to try and protect her son. Others within the family’s inner circle also closed ranks to try and protect Sean.
Jailing her for three years in 2009, Judge Globe QC said: “You backed up your son and told more lies.”
An investigation by The Sun revealed that Mercer had worked as a prostitute in a brothel during her son’s murder trial.Janette told an investigator working for the paper that she would have sex with him for £50.
Sean Mercer’s time behind bars has been littered with incidents. In 2009, just a year into his sentence, he stabbed a con with homemade knife.
In 2012 steroids were found in his cell. In 2020 The Sun revealed he had been texting a girl on an illegal mobile while pushing for parole.
Last year Mercer was arrested at HMP Gartree in relation to a plot to smuggle illegal mobiles into the jail.
Joe McCormick, Mercer’s father, was regularly seen at the 2009 murder trial wearing natty suits. The heavily built Liverpool man was already known in the city’s tough door and security industry.
Joe , who died in 2017, had become involved in an underworld dispute after an incident outside a Liverpool nightclub.
In July 1996 Joe , who was on the door of the Venue nightclub in Tuebrook, claimed Philip Glennon Jnr had pulled out a gun and tried to shoot him.
Police then arrested Mr Glennon, which led to the involvement of Liverpool crime boss Curtis Warren.
Warren made a number of phone calls to close associates in Liverpool, to try and get the charges dropped.Warren, who was based in Holland at the time, was in a relationship with a member of the Glennon family and wanted to help.
At the time Warren was at the centre of a massive police operation code named Crayfish, and his phone callswere being listened to by Dutch and British police.
Transcripts of the phone calls were later produced at Warren’s trial in Holland, when he was charged with drug offences.The transcripts revealed that at one point Warren made contact with Joe McCormick.
Mr McCormick said to Warren: “His argument was all over because he didn’t want to pay the three quid, apparently.”He goes upstairs, smashes two bottles, so gets lashed out.I come round the corner, I’m in the office and see all the doormen spread out everywhere.”
Warren replied by saying “Joe, I’m not disputing anything you say mate.” Warren paid money to corrupt police officer DCI Elmore Davies to try and help undermine the prosecution.
Gladiator telly star Mike Ahearne acted as a buffer between Warren and Davies. In 1998 Ahearne and Davies were both jailed for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Yesterday Mercer cried as she was about to be sent down by the judge.Clare Ashcroft, defending, said: “She is a lady of some notoriety and I accept on her behalf that the court will be concerned by the commission of this latest offence.”
The transcripts referred to in this story were taken from Cocky by Tony Barnes, Richard Elias and Peter Walsh.
4Murder victim Rhys JonesCredit: PA:Press Association4Killer Sean MercerCredit: Getty Images
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk