Rhys Jones’ dad has said it is “galling” for the whole family to hear how his killer has reportedly been online dating from jail.
It was reported earlier this week that gunman Sean Mercer chatted up a woman he met online using an illicit phone hidden in his prison cell.
Mercer, who shot 11-year-old Rhys in a Liverpool playground in 2007, is serving a minimum of 22 years in HMP Frankland, County Durham – alongside murderers Ian Huntley, Levi Bellfield and the Yorkshire Ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.
The former gang member, who shot Rhys dead as he walked home from football training, has reportedly been in touch with the woman for months.
A source claimed he was ‘openly using a phone to have a relationship with a woman on the outside’ and he is said to have had a ‘relationship’ with her for eight months.
Now Rhys’ dad Steve has said the revelations “beggar belief” and hopes it will put paid to any suggestion that Mercer, now 29, should be given an early release.
Speaking to the Liverpool Echo, he said: “Things like this just brings Rhys’ death back for the whole family.
“If Mercer was serious about putting in a legal challenge about how he’s a model prisoner, then he’s blown that out the water by having a mobile phone while in prison.
“It beggars belief how these things come out.
“There’s got to be a way of discovering phones in prison, I don’t accept there’s no way to track it.
“Now it’s known Mercer has a phone, the authorities should be all over him.
“It’s galling that he has access to one.”
Mercer also allegedly told the unnamed woman that he is a model prisoner who deserves early release.
During their eight month ‘relationship,’ he claimed he was in prison because he’d ‘accidentally hurt someone,’ reports claim.
He is also reported to have said he dreams of being a dad when he is released.
Mercer’s female companion reportedly visited him three times in prison.
She claims he told her he’d hung out with the wrong people and accidentally hurt someone, and that the killing ‘eats him up’.
The latest claims come just weeks after Mirror Online reported Mercer was attempting to get his sentence cut short.
His lawyers were set to argue he should be entitled to a sentence reduction because he was a juvenile, aged 16, when he murdered Rhys nearly 13 years ago.
Under law in England and Wales, juveniles are entitled to a review of their minimum tariff, halfway through their sentence, now applicable to Mercer given he has served 11 years.
But Mercer was convicted and sentenced when he was 18, having become an adult, so his appeal may stand on shaky ground.
Sean Mercer was 16 when he murdered the popular 11-year-old child who had just finished football practice in 2007.
Rhys was an innocent victim amid a crime war between gun-toting rival gangs in Croxteth and Norris Green in Liverpool.
Mercer was jailed in 2008 and ordered to serve at least 22 years, meaning his earliest release date was 2030, at the age of 40.
The Ministry of Justice told Mirror Online they could not comment on individuals.