I’ve been meaning to write about Rhys Jones and the sentencing of his killer for a few days now. For those of you unfamiliar with the case, Rhys was an 11-year-old boy who was shot in the neck and killed in Liverpool, UK, in August 2007.

The case eally affected me. I was horrified that someone so young could be killed in such a senseless way. Rhys reminded me of my nephew who was of a similar age at the time. With the number of young people recently killed by knife and gun crime, his name is the one that stuck in my mind the most. The capture and sentencing of Sean Mercer, Rhys’s murderer, is such a relief and has almost restored my faith in the police and legal system.

It’s the normal things about Rhys that broke my heart: the fact that he was on his way home from football practice; that he was the star player of his under-12s football team; that he turned towards the gunman after being distracted by the sound of the first bullet. What did that second bullet feel like? Was he still conscious? Did he feel pain? Was he scared? He was just 11 years old.

Mercer has been sentenced to 22 years in prison, which is exactly where he belongs. He knew he had struck Rhys but then continued to aim and then fire a third shot towards his original target. I mean, how fucking callous can you get?

Stephen Jones, Rhys’s father, said “Finally justice has been done for Rhys”. I felt relieved for them. They know a peace that many other parents, not least those of Stephen Lawrence, may never know.

People say that having a child is life changing; that nothing compares to it. I’ve heard parents say it’s like being in love but a type that never fades, that is always fresh and new. They say that this type of love is stronger and brighter than the love you feel for your parents or siblings or even your partner. If that is true, then I can’t imagine how painful it is to lose a child, especially in such a senseless way.

My heart goes out to Rhys’s family.

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