Teenager admitted killing Rhys, Liverpool jury told

The teenager accused of murdering Rhys Jones in Liverpool admitted to the killing just minutes after the schoolboy was shot, a court heard today.

Sean Mercer, 18, blasted three shots across the car park of the Fir Tree pub in Croxteth Park in the city on August 22 last year, it was claimed.

One left the 11-year-old bleeding to death while his mother cradled him.

Today, Liverpool Crown Court heard Mercer’s DNA was found on the bike used to flee the scene and that he admitted the killing when he arrived at another defendant’s house.

Neil Flewitt QC, for the prosecution, said a 16-year-old defendant known as Boy M “told the police that his grandmother answered the door to Sean Mercer, who said that he had just shot someone and that a kid had gone down”.

The jury also heard that a bike belonging to Mercer was found abandoned the day after the murder.

A cyclist, Leslie Shimmin, discovered it less than 250 metres from an industrial unit used by co-accused Melvin Coy, 25, of Croxteth, who denies assisting an offender.

It was not until six months later, when reading a local paper and watching the television news, that Mr Shimmin realised the bike he found and took home to keep was what the police were searching for.

When detectives contacted the insurance firm that provided the bike to Mercer - a claim had been made after his previous one had been stolen – they asked for the serial number.

Mr Flewitt told the seven women and five men of the jury: “It will, perhaps, come as no surprise to you to learn that the serial number of the silver Specialized Hardrock mountain bike found by Mr Shimmin in Kirkby is the same as the serial number of the Specialized Hardrock mountain bike supplied to Sean Mercer in April 2007.”

A forensics specialist studied the recovered bike and CCTV of the gunman racing from the murder spot and could not find any “significant differences”, said Mr Flewitt.

The QC added: “Those facts, we suggest, provide compelling evidence that Sean Mercer was the person who shot Rhys Jones.”

The trial – which is expected to last eight weeks – heard that Mercer, of Good Shepherd Close, Croxteth, rode to a friend’s house and made the confession minutes after Rhys’s shooting.

A series of calls between the seven accused were allegedly made and Mercer, Melvin Coy, Gary Kays, 25, Boy Q, 17, and James Yates, 20, then drove to Coy’s lock-up in nearby Kirkby.

It is claimed that Mercer was then washed with petrol to remove gun shot residue.

His bike, the court heard, was dumped nearby later that night.

The prosecution claim the killing was part of a gang war between the defendants’ Croxteth Crew and nearby Strand Gang from Norris Green.

It is claimed the bullets were meant for Strand Gang members Kevin Davies, 19, for a second boy who cannot be named and for Wayne Brady, 20, who was talking to his ex-girlfriend when the shots rang out.

There was allegedly “some more personal animosity” between Mercer and Brady that went beyond gang rivalry.

Dressed in a blue striped jumper Brady said he and Mercer, who attended the same school, had been friendly.

He said: “We had a little argument years back”, but could not remember what it was about.

“But we were friendly and he used to come over to the car,” said Brady.

Recalling the shots firing out, he added: “I got off straight away, I just went the opposite way from where it sounded like they were coming from.”

A police interview of the boy Brady and Davies were with was played to the court.

He said: “Me and Kev were just sitting and there was this lad holding his hand out firing shots off. Kevin said to me: ’Who’s this here?’ then he rode out shooting. He stopped on his bike and was looking at us. I just stopped and looked over. The first bang was about a foot behind me.”

Boy M – the defendant who told police Mercer admitted the killing – faces three counts of assisting an offender but “accepts most of what is alleged against him”.

Mr Flewitt said: “However, it is his case that he is not guilty of the offences with which he is charged because he was, at all times, acting under duress.

“That is, he was not exercising free will but was acting out of fear of Sean Mercer who had demanded his assistance in avoiding detection.”

All the accused deny the charges against them.

The case will continue on Monday.

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