Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Asbo boy who became a killer

Sean Mercer
Sean Mercer's name was mentioned to police from the beginning
Sean Mercer - who has been found guilty of murdering schoolboy Rhys Jones - had been in trouble with the police before.

But there was nothing in his background to suggest he was to move so swiftly from a life of petty crime to that of a killer.

Just 16 years old at the time he shot Rhys in a Liverpool car park, Mercer was a member of local gang the Croxteth Crew, known mainly for low-level criminality and rivalry with the gang from the neighbouring estate, the Nogga Dogs or Strand Gang.

They were not professional criminals - rather two gangs of youths busying themselves with mindless violence and anti-social behaviour.

Det Supt Dave Kelly, the officer in charge of the investigation, described it as "just anti-social behaviour, but these people had access to firearms and they're not afraid to use them".

He will have known that he hit Rhys Jones
Det Supt Dave Kelly

At the time of the killing, Mercer lived at home with his mother, sister and brother, and had been kicked out of school.

His lifestyle was not extravagant.

He made no money from being in the gang and although he wore labelled clothes, his most expensive possession was probably the bike he was so keen to dispose of after the murder.

His previous brushes with the law were a conviction for possession of a CS gas canister in 2006 and an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (Asbo) given to him for a series of incidents at Croxteth Sports Centre the following year.

At the time Rhys was shot, Mercer was awaiting a court hearing for breaching the Asbo, but once he was charged with murder the case was dropped.

Prison shooting

After Rhys's murder, Mercer received a second conviction for possession of controlled drugs, for which he was given a conditional discharge.

Despite so few court appearances, Mercer had been stopped by police 80 times between 2004 and 2008.

Liam Smith
Liam Smith was shot dead outside HMP Altcourse

On one of these occasions he was with two other members of the Croxteth Crew who were later jailed for murdering Liverpool teenager Liam "Smigger" Smith.

Smith, a member of the Nogga Dogs, was shot dead after visiting a friend at HMP Altcourse in Fazakerley, Liverpool, in August 2006.

His death was one of many tit-for-tat shootings between the gangs at the time.

Throughout the Rhys murder trial, Mercer showed no remorse for what he had done.

He fired three shots on 22 August 2007 - the second one hit Rhys, but he still pulled the trigger a third time.

Det Supt Kelly said that fact alone summed up what kind of person Mercer was.

"Mercer said 'a kid's gone down', but he then fired the third shot.

"He will have known that he hit Rhys Jones."

He added: "Appeals were made to him to give himself up, but he didn't.

"He then involved others to implicate them in this crime. At no point has he shown any remorse whatsoever."



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