Rhys killer 'to launch sentence appeal'

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Rhys Jones's killer could be about to launch an appeal against his 22-year murder sentence, it was revealed today.

James Benson, solicitor for Sean Mercer, 18, said "it is very much an option" that his legal team would seek grounds for appeal.



Mercer was convicted on 15 December of gunning down the football-mad 11-year-old schoolboy in August 2007.









The shaven-headed gang member has 28 days from conviction to lodge his appeal, although this period can be extended with permission.

Today, asked if and when Mercer would seek a reduction in the minimum 22-year tariff, Mr Benson said: "It's not yet been decided, though it is very much an option.



"There is a timescale for deciding, which is 28 days after conviction, but I can't say what the timescale is for a decision being made."



It is believed Mercer's barrister, Richard Pratt QC, is trying to establish reasons why the sentence, passed by Mr Justice Irwin, might be deemed too severe.













In locking Mercer up, the judge launched a blistering criticism of him.

He told the killer and his fellow Croxteth Crew gang members: "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."



Mercer, of Good Shepherd Close, Croxteth, Liverpool, shot Rhys through the neck as the youngster walked home from football training on a sunny summer evening.



The murderer, just 16 at the time, was shooting at members of the rival Norris Green gang who hail from just a mile down the road.



He fired three bullets.



The first hit a steel container behind Rhys and the second entered the youngster's back and exited through his neck.



Remarkably, after seeing Rhys fall to the floor, Mercer blasted another shot at his enemies, who were on the opposite side of the Fir Tree pub car park.



After Rhys bled to death in his mother Melanie's arms, Mercer and six co-accused orchestrated a plan to cheat justice.



It saw his clothes being destroyed, the murder weapon hidden and a series of chilling bids to make witnesses change their stories.



After an exhausting 11-week trial, Rhys's father Stephen, 45, paid tribute to the people of Liverpool for their support and said: "Finally, justice has been done for Rhys."



Four co-accused who were convicted of assisting an offender will be sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court on January 29.