Mother jailed for lying to police when her son shot dead Rhys Jones, 11, is handed nine months prison term after helping her youngest evade drugs charge by letting him stay in her home
- Janette Mercer was previously locked up for lying to detectives about murder
- Her son Sean Mercer, 16 at the time, shot and killed Rhys on August 22 2007
- Read more: Rhys Jones’s killer is pictured for the first time since he was jailed
The mother of Rhys Jones’ killer Sean Mercer has been jailed after lying to police to help another son evade a drugs charge.
Janette Mercer was previously locked up for three years back in 2009 for perverting the course of justice, having told lies to detectives investigating the 11-year-old schoolboy’s murder.
Sean Mercer, 16 at the time, shot and killed 11-year-old Rhys on August 22 2007.
The youngster was tragically caught in the crossfire of a feud between the Croxteth Crew and the rival Norris Green-based Strand Gang by the Fir Tree pub as he walked home from football training.
Mercer was later unanimously convicted of murder by a jury and jailed for life with a minimum term of 22 years.
Janette Mercer (pictured), the mother of Rhys Jones’ killer Sean Mercer, has been jailed after lying to police to help another son evade a drugs charge
11-year-old Rhys Jones was shot dead as he walked home from football training in August 2007
Mercer (pictured outside Liverpool Crown Court with legal team) was previously locked up for three years back in 2009 for perverting the course of justice, having told lies to detectives investigating the 11-year-old schoolboy’s murder
His mother tried to cover up a crucial piece of evidence by lying to police in a statement when they asked her about any bicycles her son owned or had access to.
He was riding a silver mountain bike when he fired the fatal shot, but Jeanette Mercer claimed he did not own such a bike – instead saying he had only a black, orange and white one.
But it was subsequently discovered that she taken had delivery of the bike four months earlier when it was sent to the family following an insurance claim.
On the day of her sentencing, she reportedly smiled at friends and family in the public gallery as she was led to the cells by security guards.
The now 63-year-old appeared back before Liverpool Crown Court today having been convicted for a second time after pleading guilty to assisting an offender.
Sean Mercer, now 29, was jailed for life with a minimum of 22 years after shooting dead Rhys
This charge relates to another of her three sons, Joseph Mercer, whom she helped to remain at large while he was wanted over drug supply offences.
He was imprisoned for 30 months in October 2020 after being caught peddling heroin and crack cocaine from a hotel room in Bournemouth.
The then 25-year-old, of Daisy Street in Kirkdale, was locked up after admitting possession of class A drugs with intent to supply.
Charlotte Kenny, prosecuting, told the court that his mother ‘knew he was wanted by police’ in connection with this offence but allowed him to stay at her home during a six-month period in 2019 and 2020 ‘to impede his apprehension’.
Police attended the address on several occasions while looking for Joseph Mercer during this time, but Janette Mercer claimed she only spoke to her son rarely when he called her on a withheld number.
During one visit from officers, she ‘presented as being extremely anxious’ and was ‘having palpitations’ but said she did not require an ambulance.
On December 4 2019, PCs knocked on her door on two occasions but received no answer.
A dog could be heard barking inside, while the television was on during the second visit.
A PC contacted Mercer – also of Daisy Street – by phone on this date, but she stated she ‘only spoke to him now and again’.
Janette Mercer, 63, appeared back before Liverpool Crown Court (pictured) today having been convicted for a second time after pleading guilty to assisting an offender
11-year-old Rhys was tragically caught in the crossfire of a feud between the Croxteth Crew and the rival Norris Green-based Strand Gang
Joseph Mercer was eventually located at the property by the force on June 13 2020, and it was ‘evident he had been living there’ as well as spending periods at the Malmaison Hotel in Liverpool city centre.
His clothes were located in a wardrobe and his identification was found in a chest of drawers, while a stash of cannabis was also seized from the bedroom where he had been staying.
Janette Mercer was heard sobbing in the dock and dabbed her eyes with a tissue during the hearing. Clare Ashcroft, defending, said that her client had been released from prison in late 2010 and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder the following year.
She also described how the defendant was subjected to an abusive relationship at her son’s hands and was ‘living in fear’ of him.
This included incidents which saw the police called out to their home, where Joseph Mercer is now living again following his release.
Ms Ashcroft added: ‘It’s fair to say a lot has been written about her, because she is a lady of some notoriety. The court will be concerned by the commission of this latest offence.
‘It’s a second offence of a similar type to the first. It is fair to say what Ms Mercer is charged with and to which she has entered her guilty plea is over a period of some time, about six months, providing accommodation to her son when she knew he was wanted by the police.
‘Ms Mercer was and is of such character – impaired by her mental disorder, her depression, her anxiety and her PTSD – that she was unable to stand back and rationalise what she should do when confronted by the police.
READ MORE HERE: Rhys Jones’s killer is pictured for the first time since he was jailed for shooting dead the 11-year-old in 2007, in photo taken on illegal jail mobile and sent to ‘girlfriend’ on the outside
She had her son manipulating her, whether willfully or otherwise – she simply didn’t have the fortitude to see clearly through the situation.
Of her son’s arrest, Ms Ashcroft said: ‘She freely indicated that Joseph had been living there and sleeping in the room, almost as if it was a relief to her. That is exactly what it was, it was a relief.
‘She has told me, quite frankly, that there were times when the police spoke to her and she felt she couldn’t tell Joseph because she was frightened of his reaction.
When she did try and implore him to contact the police he would become abusive, threatening, aggressive and she would simply withdraw.’
Proceedings were briefly adjourned at one stage as Mercer appeared to begin hyperventilating. She was given a paper bag to breathe into after saying: ‘I’m going to pass out.
‘I’m going to faint. I’m going to collapse.’
Following a short break, Mercer showed no reaction as she was imprisoned for nine months. Sentencing, Judge David Potter said: ‘Joseph Mercer is your youngest child.
‘His behaviour towards you was marked with frequent violence. The prosecution have disclosed numerous incidents where you had been assaulted and your house had been damaged by uncontrollable outbursts of aggression from him.
‘On several occasions, police made enquiries at your home as to his whereabouts. He had evidently been living there.
‘You did lie, however, I am satisfied, because you were terrified about what Joseph might do if you had told the truth.
Assisting an offender is a serious offence, striking at the heart of the criminal justice system, and the public needs to know that prison will follow.’
Dorset Police raided a hotel room in January 2017 after receiving reports that a ‘suspicious white powder’ had been seen inside, with a strong smell of cannabis also emanating from within.
A co-conspirator – who was handed three years behind bars in March 2021 – had been staying in the room but had already packed up and left
His car was then found in the car park of another nearby hotel later the same day.
When officers entered their room at this premises, he and Mercer were found inside with nearly 100 wraps of heroin and crack cocaine plus £1,000 in cash as well as several mobile phones and a set of scales.
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