Little Boy Blue episode two follows the devastating series opener with a dramatic re-telling of the investigation to find the murder weapon that links prime suspect Sean Mercer to the 11-year-old Rhys Jones’s killing.
Rhys Jones – The real story
It’s a tense and frustrating hour of television detailing a tense and frustrating investigation for Stephen Graham’s Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly and his team – but how true to life is it? And who are the boys he’s trying to coax the truth out of?
Who is Sean Mercer?
In 2007 Sean Mercer was just 16 years old, but he’d already been stopped and searched by police “about 80 times” according to Little Boy Blue creator Jeff Pope.
Mercer identified as a member of the Croxteth Crew, a local gang who were known to police. It’s thought that he was intending to shoot a member of a rival gang when his stray bullet struck Rhys Jones in the back.
Who are the Nogga Dogz and the Crocky Crew?
Nogga Dogz, or The Strand Gang, was the name given to a gang based in Liverpool’s Norris Green estate. They developed a rivalry with a gang from the nearby Croxteth Estate, who referred to themselves as The Crocky Crew.
Mercer and his associates were linked to The Crocky Crew, while Mercer’s intended target, Wayne Brady, was believed to be involved with The Strand Gang.
Who is James Yates?
Yates was the boy who provided Sean Mercer with the Smith & Wesson revolver used to shoot Rhys Jones. He was in a cast at the time of the murder (thanks to a quad biking accident) but that didn’t stop him rushing to Mercer’s aid on the night of the killing.
He was central to the attempted cover up of the murder – and his parents even got involved.
The police bugged their home early on in the investigation. This listening device provided vital evidence, which guided them to the hiding place of the murder weapon.
Did James Yates’ mother really burn a SIM card linking her son to the murder?
Yes, evidence from the bug police officers placed in James Yates’s family home revealed that his mother, Marie, burned a sim card that would link him to the Croxteth Crew. A Guardian report from 2009 confirms that she pleaded guilty when charged with doing so in court.
She and her husband, Francis, would later be convicted of perverting the court of justice and serve time in prison for their attempts to conceal what the boys had done.
Who is Kevin Moody?
Kevin Moody is the fictional name given to the character who represents Boy X. Boy X was the teenager who Sean Mercer called on the night of the murder, and charged with hiding the murder weapon.
Boy X made a deal with the police that granted him immunity from prosecution in return for his testimony. He was put under witness protection for the rest of his life. His true identity has never been revealed.
His on-screen sister’s name, Sandra Oxley, is also fictional.
Who is Dean Kelly?
Dean Kelly was another associate of Sean Mercer, who helped to dispose of the weapon and provide the killer with an alibi. He was the boy who called to Boy X’s home and moved the murder weapon from its original hiding place (in a dog kennel) to the loft, where he’s also thought to have stashed a bag of ammunition.
During the investigation he was referred to as Boy K, before later being identified by his real name.
How did detectives find the gun used to shoot Rhys Jones?
The evidence obtained via the bugs in James Yates’s home led police to search Boy X’s house. He and his family were abroad when police found the Smith & Wesson handgun used to shoot Rhys hidden in his loft.
Was Boy X really in Florida when the murder weapon was found?
Yes, Boy X and his family were on holiday at the time.
According to a 2008 report from The Independent, “Mercer called or texted him 13 times in 15 minutes to warn him of the raid. A terrified Boy X – urged by his stunned family to cooperate – was arrested on the apron at Manchester airport when he returned a week later.”
Who is Jordan Olssen?
Jordan Olssen is the fictional name given to the character representing Boy M. Boy M was another unnamed teenager attached to the case. He was 14 years old at the time of the murder and had ADHD. Boy M had previously been beaten up by gang members because he was accused of being a “grass” and had refused to leave his home for about two years afterwards.
He refused to name Sean Mercer, James Yates and Nathan Kelly, or confirm that they had been at his home on the night of the murder. Court reports from 2008 reveal that he became frantic when his mother cooperated with the investigation.
Who is Claire Olssen?
Claire Olssen (played by Faye McKeever) is the fictional name given to the character who represents Boy M’s mother. The real Mrs M played a crucial role in the investigation, offering a police statement about the movements of Sean Mercer, Nathan Quinn and James Yates when her son would not.
Mrs M gave evidence in court confirming that the boys had called to her home on the night Rhys was killed, and a police bug installed in her home provided vital evidence for the case.
Was Boy M’s mother really threatened by Nathan Quinn’s mother?
Yes, a Telegraph court report from 2008 reveals details of the exchange between Mrs Quinn and Mrs M, which sounds almost exactly like the exchange the pair have in episode two.
At one point she is heard to ask: “If Mercer’s got nothing to hide, why is he saying he wasn’t here?”
Quinn’s mother, Marie Thompson, tells her: “Listen to me. My son was not here.”
Mrs M: “They came here that night, why should I lie?”
Ms Thompson: “You’ve just got to say you got the wrong day. Just f****** forget about it.”
Sean Mercer was also caught on tape attempting to convince Boy M’s grandmother to change her story of the night of the killing.
Who is Nathan Quinn?
Quinn was another of the boys who rushed to Sean Mercer’s aid on the night of the murder. He was said to be with James Yates when Mercer called and to have assisted in the disposal of the bike Mercer was riding and the clothes he was wearing.
A report in The Independent from 2008 confirms that he was listed as the primary carer for his mother, who was battling stomach cancer at the time.
Who is Melvin Coy?
Throughout episode two the police are attempting to establish the identity of a man known only as Melvin. The person to whom they are referring is Melvin Coy, the man who drove Sean Mercer away from Croxteth on the night of the murder to help him dispose of his clothes.
Was there a problem with the murder weapon?
It’s unclear whether or not the setback depicted at the end of episode two is fictional or factual. What we do know, however, is that expert testimony revealed that the bullet which killed Rhys had not been flying ‘true’ when it was fired.
A Guardian report from 2008 quotes forensics expert Mark Robinson – who had examined the weapon – who told the court that this was either because the bullet was too small for the gun or because the rifling was worn.
This ‘tumbling effect’ caused the bullet to create a wound that was inconsistent with the size experts would have expected.
Little Boy Blue continues on ITV on Monday nights at 9pm