Sinead Keenan and Brian O’Byrne. Picture: Supplied

On Wednesday, May17,  ITV Choice premieres a four-part factual drama that sheds light on what happens when a child is slain. Little Boy Blue is based on a true story.

On August 22, 2007, an 11-year-old boy named Rhys Jones was like any other pre-teen. He was a happy kid who didn’t have a care in the world. That night, he was no more. He was murdered. Gang violence comes under the spotlight here.

Although his murderer and associates were eventually jailed, the pain that Rhys’ parents went through cannot be forgotten so easily.

In four hour-long parts, this drama retells what happened. Little Boy Blue is written and executive produced by Jeff Pope. It is produced by Kwadjo Dajan and directed by Paul Whittington.

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Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, who was the lead investigator in this murder case, is played by Stephen Graham. Melanie and Steve Jones, Rhys’ parents, are played by Sinead Keenan and Brian O’Byrne, respectively.

When stories like Rhys’ make it beyond news headlines and get turned into films or other such projects, the question always arises: is the death of a child being exploited for entertainment or profit?

Here is what Rhys’ parents had to say: “Our decision to get involved with Little Boy Blue stemmed principally from a desire to honour our son, Rhys, whom we lost 10 years ago this year. It is very important to us, and our other son, Owen, to keep his memory alive and for people to understand how important he was to us… but, beyond this, we saw this as an opportunity to let the public see what happens to a family like ours in a situation like this.

“We wanted to show how the pressures we were placed under, the huge weight of grief thrust upon us, the endless waiting, not knowing if we would get justice for Rhys, can tear a family apart. We spoke very openly to the programme makers about what we went through because we wanted to let (those) involved in Rhys’s murder know that our sentence never ends.”

Lastly: “Our pain will only fade, it will never go away. And that by trying to avoid the consequences of their actions they only increased that pain. We wanted them to know that there is no ‘closure’ for us – even from a guilty verdict – because it cannot give us what we want: our son back. But if we can get people to understand this and, if by showing what we went through, we can help other people who might find themselves in the future put in the same, horrendous, position that we were, then this will have all been worthwhile.”

* Little Boy Blue premieres on Wednesday on ITV Choice (DStv Channel 123) at 8pm.