Mother of Rhys killer faces jail over lies

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The mother of Rhys Jones's killer was told today that she faces jail for lying to detectives investigating the schoolboy's murder.

Janette Mercer, 49, broke down and wept as she changed her plea and admitted perverting the course of justice at Liverpool Crown Court.

Mercer intentionally misled police about the mountain bike her son Sean used to cycle from the scene of the 11-year-old's slaying in Croxteth on 22 August, 2007.

The 18-year-old rode a silver Specialised Hardrock mountain bike which he got through an insurance company on 3 April.

His previous bike was stolen on 24 February - several months before Rhys was shot and his mother was involved in negotiations to replace it, the court heard today.

Outlining the basis of plea, Anne Whyte, prosecuting, said Mercer was present during her son's police interview three days after the murder in which he lied saying he only owned a black and cream bicycle.

Mercer, of Good Shepherd Close, Croxteth, admitted lying in a police statement on 7 September saying Sean only owned one bike and she did not know how long he'd had it.

But she clearly did. Only six months before she had arranged for the replacement bike to be delivered.

"She gave information she knew could mislead the inquiry," said Miss Whyte.

Only the basis of plea was mentioned during the hearing and none of the background detail.

The gunman's bike was eventually recovered abandoned and bearing his DNA. It was a key part of the evidence during Mercer's trial in December.

His mother was due to stand trial today after months of denying perverting the course of justice.

Rhys's parents Stephen and Melanie were in court - just as they were every day of the three month murder trial - to see the long haired brunette admit the offence.

When the charge was re-put to Mercer, dressed in a smart black blouse and trousers, she wept and struggled to say "Guilty".

Her voice broke and she had to repeat the word for the court to hear her before she clutched a tissue to her face.

The case was adjourned until 1 April for a pre-sentencing report and the Recorder of Liverpool, Judge Henry Globe, extended her bail.

Admitting he was taking a chance by doing so, the judge told Mercer she faced jail.

He said to her barrister Nigel Power: "She is completely guilty of a serious offence.

"I have agreed to a pre-sentencing report being prepared but I cannot envisage passing anything other than an immediate custodial sentence."

Mr Power said he would "make submissions to the contrary" but added he had explained to the killer's mother the likely sentence.

He said bail was needed for her to attend to domestic and personal arrangements.

The judge told Mercer her sentence could be lengthy and said if she did not attend court next time she would be arrested and jailed for non-attendance.

Her son was jailed for a minimum 22-year term, which he is appealing.

Mercer killed football-mad Rhys as he walked home from football training.

The thug, who had convictions for possession of weapons and an ASBO, blasted three shots at rival gang members across the car park of the Fir Tree pub.

One, the second bullet, hit Rhys in the back and exited through his neck.