Jamie Bulger’s killer Jon Venables is granted a new parole hearing and could be released from prison within weeks
- Jamie Bulger’s killer Jon Venables believes it may be his last chance of freedom
Venables, 40, and Robert Thompson, 39, were both aged just 10 when they kidnapped, tortured and killed the innocent two-year-old boy before leaving his mutilated body by a railway line in Liverpool 30 years ago.
The toddler was snatched from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, on February 12 1993.
Both men were released in 2001 on licence for life, but Venables has been recalled to prison twice, in 2010 and 2017, having found to be in possession of indecent images of children.
The child murderer has been told that his case will be heard in the coming weeks despite his fears that a law change would prevent him being freed, The Sun reports.
James’ mother Denise Fergus, 55, and father Ralph, 56, are understood to have written statements in a bid to prevent Venables being released. It’s believed Justice Secretary Alex Chalk is in agreement with the parents.
A source told The Sun: ‘Venables is buoyant as he believes this is his best, and possibly his last, chance of freedom.
‘He has got the official confirmation and has been working on his presentation to the parole panel.’
But a second source said it is ‘incredibly unlikely’ that the killer will be recommended for release, adding: ‘He’s a chaotic character who has clearly not rehabilitated.’
The Justice Secretary is set to get the power to stop repeat offenders being freed with a new bill early next year.
The Victims and Prisoners Bill will make public safety the sole priority in considering the release of repeat offenders.
Currently, the rights of inmates have more weight when making such decisions.
Venables was freed from prison aged 18 in 2001 and handed a new identity, but landed back in jail in 2010 and 2017 over child sex images. He was last denied parole in 2020.
James’ mother has previously been vocal about Venables not being released and has met Mr Chalk to voice those same concerns.
Denise has previously claimed former Justice Secretary Dominic Raab promised her his Reform Bill would keep her child’s killer in jail.
He added to her peace of mind when he told her Venables would not walk free again under his proposed new ‘two strikes and you stay in’ policy.
Speaking about the meeting with Mr Raab, Denise told the Mirror: ‘In that meeting I was hearing words I’d always wanted to hear.
‘His lips were moving, but I couldn’t hear it all because I never believed I would hear those words.
‘The words that under his plans, Venables would never walk free again.
‘I didn’t think this day would ever come. I froze.’
James’ brother Michael Fergus, 29, said earlier this year that even after three decades he will never forgive the killers, adding that Venables must be kept behind bars.
Mr Fergus was born eight months after the tragedy, and though he never got to meet his brother, he has grown up with the impacts of those events.
He told the Sunday Express: ‘My brother’s killers will never be forgiven. They took away my older brother who I never got to meet.’
He added: ‘They robbed me of my childhood, in a nutshell.’
Michael still lives close to his mother Denise, and her husband Stuart, in north west England.
Denise and James’ father Ralph divorced in 1995 as grief took its toll.
James Bulger: How the murder of a toddler shocked the nation
The murder of James Bulger was a vicious crime that shocked Britain.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were both 10-years-old on February 12, 1993, when they abducted the two-year-old before brutally torturing and killing him.
The crime made the boys the youngest killers in modern English history.
The duo snatched James from outside a butcher’s shop in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1993, while his mother popped into a store for just a few seconds.
James’ mutilated body was found on a railway line in Walton, Liverpool, two days later.
The boys were playing truant from school, and CCTV showed them observing local children at the shopping centre, appearing to be ‘selecting a target’.
They were then captured on camera taking the boy away at 3.42pm, before leading him on a two-and-a-half mile walk through Liverpool to the village of Walton.
Venables and Thompson were seen by 38 people during the walk, and were twice challenged by bystanders because James was crying and had a bump on his forehead.
But they were able to convince the concerned people that James was their little brother and continued on their way.
They led James to a railway line near the disused Walton & Anfield Railway Station where they began torturing him – including throwing paint in his eye, pelting him with stones and bricks and dropping an iron bar on his head.
After the body was found, police launched an appeal showing the low-resolution CCTV images of the boy.
The breakthrough came when one woman recognised Venables, who she knew had skipped school with Thompson on that day, and contacted police.
They were charged with murder on February 20 and forensic tests confirmed they had the same paint on their clothes as was found on James’ body.
Around 500 protesters turned out for their initial magistrates’ court hearing due to the public outcry against the crime.
The subsequent trial at Preston Crown Court and the boys were considered to be ‘mature enough’ to know they were doing something ‘seriously wrong’.
Venables and Thompson were found guilty on November 24, 1993, with the judge describing them as ‘cunning and wicked’.
Reporting restrictions on their names were also lifted as it was considered in the public interest to do so.
Their parents were moved to different parts of the country and also received new identities due to death threats against them.