Rhys Jones murder: Who were gunman Sean Mercer's accomplices?

Nigel Bunyan
Sean Mercer, (top centre) was a leading figure in the so-called Croxteth Crew, a notorious east Liverpool street gang - PA

The gun killer of Rhys Jones, Sean Mercer, had a gang of accomplices who were involved with the crime or helped him try to conceal his involvement.

James Yates, 20

Yates has been a gangster since his early teens and used his own cash to buy the Rhys Jones murder weapon three years ago.

James Yates Credit: PA

He is so hated by the rival Strand Gang that in 2005 a group of them attacked him with a wheel brace while he was in his father’s car.

The image of James 'Yatzy' Yates as a hard man crumbled when fellow inmates at HMP Altcourse, where he was held on remand, taunted him with shouts of 'Baby Killer'.

He immediately requested 'vulnerable prisoner' status and was “teary” when telling a prison officer he feared reprisals against his family.

Gary Kays, 25

Kays, who has a £500-a-week job with his father’s joinery business, set in motion the sequence of events that would lead to Rhys Jones’s murder.

Gary Kays, 26, of West Derby, Liverpool, who was found guilty of assisting Mercer Credit: PA

A minute after being told that Wayne Brady, a prominent member of the Strand Gang, was on Croxteth Crew “turf,” he passed the news on to Mercer.

As Rhys lay dying in the Fir Tree car park CCTV captured Kays’ leased Audi Q7 driving past.

Kays, who 10 years ago was convicted of dangerous driving and driving without insurance, later helped ferry the gang to a lock-up so they could dispose of evidence.

Nathan “Naydog” Quinn, 18

Quinn was already serving a five-year sentence before the trial began.

In April another jury at Liverpool Crown Court found him guilty of trying to buy a pistol and ammunition from an underworld dealer.

Merseyside Police handout photo of Nathan Quinn, 18, of Croxteth, Liverpool, who was found guilty of assisting Sean Mercer after they helped Mercer evade the police for months following the murder of Rhys Jones Credit: PA

Quinn is thought to have signed up to the Croxteth Crew when he was only 11. Three years later he spent two days in hospital after rival gangsters targeted him in a drive-by shooting.

He refused to speak to police about the attack and still carries the pellets as trophies in his body. His mother, Marie, was among those who tried to persuade other witnesses to change their evidence ahead of the Rhys Jones trial.

Melvin Coy, 25

A welder by trade, Coy was prominent in helping Mercer to cover his tracks.

Melvin Coy Credit: PA

He was with his friend, Gary Kays, when they were called in to deal with the aftermath of the shooting.

Coy used his Ford Galaxy to drive the young gangsters to his lock-up in Kirkby, and back to Croxteth again once Mercer had been doused in petrol and his clothes burned to prevent police finding traces of gunshot residue.

Dean Kelly (Boy K), 16

Boy K - who can now be named as Dean Kelly after a court order was lifted - was Mercer’s best friend in the gang, with the two of them being referred to in MSN chat rooms as The Boys.

Boy K, who was later named as Dean Kelly, was convicted of assisting an offender after he helped Sean Mercer evade the police Credit: PA

Kelly was with Mercer when he repeatedly terrorised staff and security guards at Croxteth Sports Centre.

At one stage the two teenage gangsters threatened to set fire to a security guard’s jacket and to “get a knife”.

Kelly, nicknamed The Belly because of his girth, was still the subject of a three-year anti social behaviour order on the day of the murder.

Before joining Mercer in the dock he had admitted a separate offence of illegally possessing a shotgun.

Rhys Jones Credit: PA

Boy M, 16

The boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, claimed he had only taken part in the cover-up because he was “terrified” of what Mercer and the rest of the gang would do to him if he refused.

But the court heard damning surveillance tapes of him launching foul-mouthed tirades in his home, as he tried to force both his mother and grandmother to change the accounts they had given police.

Rhys Jones murder: in pictures

Boy M

Once a promising footballer, was allowed to be absent from the dock while his relatives gave their evidence against Mercer.

His mother claimed the teenager – who has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder - was in total fear of Mercer, and terrified, too, about “what will happen to him after this trial”.

Rhys Jones: Timeline of events

 

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