Jon Venables is 'danger to the public' warns Bulger's mother
James Bulger's parents furious with Parole Board after their son's killer is quietly released from jail
THE PARENTS of murdered toddler James Bulger have reacted furiously to the news that their son's killer has been quietly freed from prison.
Jon Venables, 31, was released last week and given his fourth identity after serving three years in prison for downloading images of young children being abused.
He previously served eight years for killing James Bulger in 1993. He and his friend Robert Thompson were ten years old when they tortured and killed the two-year-old after abducting him from a shopping centre in Bootle.
James's mother Denise Fergus and father Ralph Bulger believe it is only a matter of time before he commits another crime against a child. In an interview with The Sun, Fergus said: "He is a danger to the public. He lies for his own sick ends. I have been told that the terms of his parole mean that he must not enter the county of Merseyside.
"But the probation service didn't monitor him properly last time so I have no faith in their ability to do that now. They should've kept him locked up for a long time."
Despite Venables being released last week, Fergus and Bulger were only informed yesterday. James's father said: "As ever, Venables is treated with kid gloves, while James's family is treated as if we don't matter."
Venables was granted parole on 4 July and it has taken two months for officials to prepare him for release with a fourth new identity.
The Daily Telegraph has previously estimated that it costs around £250,000 to fashion a new identity, which involves creating new personal documents, training on a fake back story and support from probation officers.
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said those on a life licence, such as Venables, can be recalled to prison at any time for breaching their licence conditions and will be under "strict controls".
What will happen to Jon Venables now and how much will his new identity cost the taxpayer?
THE parents of murdered toddler James Bulger have condemned the decision to release one of his killers from prison as "reckless" and "wrong".
The Parole Board yesterday approved the release of Jon Venables, who was 10 years old when he and classmate Robert Thompson abducted, tortured and killed two year-old James in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993.
They became the youngest convicted murderers in recent English history and were released in 2001 after being granted lifetime anonymity by the courts.
Venables, now 30, will be released from jail just over three years after he was sent back to prison for distributing child pornography.
The solicitor acting for James's father Ralph Bulger described the decision as "reckless" and said that "the living nightmare continues" for the family. James's mother Denise Fergus said: "Venables has shown time and again that he cannot be trusted and that he is a danger to the public and himself. He lies and manipulates people for his own sick ends and I believe the Parole Board have made the wrong decision."
And what now for Venables? He will be monitored for the rest of his life, explains The Independent, and risks immediate return to prison if he breaks any conditions of his release. He will be expected to inform his parole officer if he moves home or travels abroad, and if he finds work his job will have to be approved as suitable. He will have to report regularly - typically once a week - to his probation officer, is likely to be banned from heavy drinking and could also be set a curfew.
Venables will also be barred from returning to Merseyside, a key stipulation of his previous parole that he breached several times.
The taxpayer will foot a "massive" bill to give Venables a new home and identity, says the Daily Telegraph. He will require full identity documents, training on his fake "back story" and support from probation officers, as well as a new home funded from the public purse. The Telegraph says it costs the taxpayer around £250,000 every time someone is given a new identity for their own protection. For Venables, this will be his fourth chance.
Jon Venables ‘pictures’ circulate on the internet
The identity of James Bulger killer Jon Venables could be exposed after pictures, said to be of him as an adult, began circulating on the internet, even though the publication of such details is forbidden by a court ruling.
Two national newspapers have reported that photographs, allegedly of the 28-year-old, have been viewed by at least 1 million people since they were posted on various websites, which cannot be named, over the past few days. The papers claim that Venables's personal details, protected by a court order, have also been published.
Venables is currently serving a two-year jail sentence for possessing child pornography, but becomes eligible for parole in the next few weeks.
The online campaigner who broke the court orders protecting Venables told the Sun that he wanted to 'out' him because: "I don't believe Jon Venables or any convicted sex offender has the right to anonymity or a protected identity. It is the public that needs protection."
Bulger's father Ralph, appeared to welcome the news that the pictures were circulating. He said: "I've always said the public should know what Venables and [Robert] Thompson look like. The ban on identity is ungovernable and ridiculous as millions have seen the photos and have access to the net."
The murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993 shocked Britain. Venables and Thompson were both only 10 when they lured the toddler away from a shopping centre and tortured him to death on railway tracks.
The pair were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison in November 1993. Venables served eight years behind bars before being released on license in 2001 and was given a new, secret identity.
Last year it was revealed that he had been returned to prison for breaching his parole and he was jailed once again after pleading guilty to child pornography charges at the Old Bailey. At the time Venables's former solicitor, Lawrence Lee, said that allowing the press to report on the second court case has undermined Venables's anonymity and jeopardised his safety.
Jon Venables jailed for two years for child porn
Jon Venables, one of the killers of toddler James Bulger, has been jailed for two years after pleading guilty to child pornography charges at the Old Bailey. Venables, who is now 27, was only visible to the judge, in order to keep his new identity safe.
He admitted downloading 57 indecent photographs of children on to his computer between February 2009 and February this year.
He also pleaded guilty to distributing seven indecent images of children in February this year by allowing files on his computer to be accessed through a peer-to-peer network. He was due to be sentenced later today.
Among those attending the Old Bailey on Friday morning was Denise Fergus, the mother of James Bulger, whom Venables and his friend Robert Thompson killed in 1993 when both boys were 10-years-old.
It was a case that shocked Britain. The pair abducted the two-year-old from a Bootle shopping centre and left him for dead by a railway line after beating him with bricks and an iron bar.
They were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in November 1993. Venables served eight years behind bars before being released on license in 2001 and being given a new, secret identity. In March it was revealed that he had been returned to prison for breaching his parole.
The nature of the charges he was facing only came to light at a preliminary hearing last month.
The case has sparked widespread publicity and Venables's former solicitor, Lawrence Lee, has said that the lifting of reporting restrictions has undermined Venables's anonymity and jeopardised his safety.
Because Venables is a 'lifer', he will have to spend far longer in jail than the two-year term he received this afternoon. He will not be released until he can convince a parole board that he will not re-offend if he is set free on licence for a second time.
Jon Venables ‘faces 10 years jail for child porn’ 22/06/2010
Jon Venables, one of the two killers of the Merseyside toddler James Bulger, faces another 10 years in prison after being charged with downloading child porn.
It was revealed yesterday that Venables is accused of downloading 57 indecent images of children from the internet. He has also been charged with distributing seven child porn images using a 'peer-to-peer' network.
Venables is not expected to be in court for the hearing on July 23 at London’s Old Bailey. It is understood that he will follow proceedings from prison via a video link.
Venables and his school friend Robert Thompson were both aged 10 when they abducted James Bulger from a Bootle shopping centre. They left him for dead by a railway line after beating him with bricks and an iron bar. The pair were convicted in November 1993.
Now 27, Venables was released from custody nine years ago after being given a new identity. In March it was revealed that he had been returned to prison for allegedly breaching his parole.
The child porn charges were only disclosed after an injunction on reporting the case was partially lifted by a High Court judge on Monday under pressure from media organisations.
In May the director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, requested a court order preventing any publication of the charges. He argued that this would ensure Venables could receive a fair trial. Yesterday, however, Old Bailey judge Mr Justice Bean lifted reporting restrictions in the interests of open justice.
Bulger's mother fights phone hacking payout to killer
THE MOTHER of murdered toddler James Bulger has spoken of her disgust at the possibility that one of her son's killers might win thousands of pounds in compensation if it is proved that the News of the World hacked his phone.
Last August, it was reported that the police had told Robert Thompson, 29, his phone might have been hacked by journalists at the now-defunct tabloid.
Last week, a detective from Operation Weeting, Scotland Yard's investigation into phone hacking, told Denise Fergus, 44, that one of her son's killers was planning to submit a claim to the News of the World.
The claim could relate to a series of exclusives run in the tabloid following Thompson's release from prison in 2001.
In 2002, the News of the World claimed that Thompson, now living under a new identity for his own protection, had been in hospital following an overdose.
Further reports followed in 2004, including the claims that Thompson was "living in the lap of luxury in a trendy apartment block on Merseyside" and that Fergus had come face-to-face with her son's killer.
Thompson might believe journalists hacked his phone to write these stories.
Fergus told The Times any money claimed by Thompson should go to charity: "It would be a terrible insult to James's memory if the animal who murdered him received a payment...
"If his phone was hacked that is wrong. But the only reason that they were interested in him was the fact that he murdered my son. If there is to be compensation paid then all the money should go to charity and if his lawyers had a shred of decency that's what they would advise him to do.
Teen guilty of false Bulger killer allegation 08/04/2010
A teenage boy has been convicted of spreading false rumours about the identity and whereabouts of Robert Thompson, one of the killers of toddler James Bulger, who is now living under a new name after serving an eight-year sentence.
Nineteen-year-old Wayne Vincent Dale, of the Isle of Man, is believed to be the first person convicted of making such groundless claims. Last October he sent a message on Facebook in which he tried to unmask a local superstore worker on the Isle of Man as Robert Thompson.
The rumour quickly spread on the social networking site and internet message boards and police were soon alerted. Officers were able to trace the message to Dale who was arrested and charged with using 'provoking behaviour'.
Police said Dale had also made the same spurious accusation in a face-to-face encounter with the B&Q employee on the same day, October 30, that he wrote the claim on Facebook. Dale also admitted theft after he stole £1,100 from a house where his girlfriend lived.
The case mirrors that of David Calvert. He was targeted earlier this year by a malicious group of 2,000 Facebook users, who claimed the 27-year-old was Jon Venables, the other Bulger murderer recalled to jail last month after breaching the terms of his release. Calvert was forced to speak out publicly to deny the claim after news of Venables's recall caused a media furore.
Although the Isle of Man has its own legal system, Manx law is closely based on the principles of English common law meaning Dale's case could set a precedent for those making false accusations in future.
Bulger killer ‘could face 10 years’ jail without trial’
Jon Venables could face up to 10 years in jail without trial for breaching the conditions of his release, if his fate is left in the hands of his parole officers.
Venables, 27, who was released with a new identity in 2001 after serving eight years in a secure children's unit for the murder of the toddler James Bulger, was returned to prison earlier this month. Justice Secretary Jack Straw has repeatedly refused to provide any details of the reasons behind his recall, but tabloid reports suggest it was in connection with child pornography offences.
Even if the claims are true, Venables may yet avoid a charge of possession of pornographic material rated as Category Four – only one category below Britain’s most serious level of child pornography. Category Four possession carries a tariff of up to five years in prison, but Straw is said to be concerned that a trial would expose Venables's identity. The cost of a second new identity for him – his first was said to have been uncovered by fellow prison inmates – could cost taxpayers as much as £250,000.
A more convenient option for Straw – and one more palatable to the tabloid press – could be to leave Venables's case in the hands of his parole officers. For breaching the conditions of his release, the parole board has the ability to jail Venables for five to 10 years without trial.
A "senior source" told the News of the World: "There is a drive to persuade the Justice Secretary and the Crown Prosecution Service not to charge Venables as it would provide everyone with the easier option to manage."
When Venables and Robert Thompson went on trial in 1994 for the murder of James Bulger, the sexual aspect of the killing was presented to Preston Crown Court but it was not dwelled on, to spare his mother Denise Fergus from further upset. It was also felt at the time that the evidence would make little difference to the eventual outcome of the trial, but now the nature of Bulger's torture and killing could affect Venables's parole.
The case file could strengthen the parole board's argument that Venables is a risk to the public, the source told the News of the World. "One key issue is the fact that he is being accused of child porn. If there is any evidence from the original case that James's injuries were consistent with sexual abuse this is a very strong tool for parole bosses to use to keep him inside for possibly another five to 10 years."
But a spokesman for Fergus today said that any new crime committed by Venables should not be "swept under the carpet".
"The Justice Secretary has spoken of Venables being suspected of a 'very serious offence' and if there is evidence of that, he should be brought before a court," the spokesman said.
Facebook mob accuses man of being Bulger killer
A Facebook group has been set up accusing an innocent man of being Jon Venables, one of the two killers of toddler James Bulger. David Calvert, aged 27, from Fleetwood, near Blackpool is in fear of his life after the group naming him attracted more than 2,000 members.
It’s not the first time that Calvert has suffered this comparison. He was subjected to a torrent of abuse five years ago when he first became the victim of rumours about his identity, which started after he told a neighbour he had spent time in jail in Liverpool for fraud in his youth. The threats became so bad that police installed a panic button in Calvert's house. Telling press he was now too scared to leave his home, he produced a family photo album to prove he wasn't Venables.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were released in 2001 after serving eight years for the murder of Bulger. They were granted anonymity for life for fear they would face revenge attacks.
Despite the objectionable aim of the new Facebook group, some contributors to the online discussion do show glimmerings of intelligence. One writes: "What a pointless group. You're all mental... what if David Calvert is just David Calvert?"
But the online hate mob lends some weight to a warning last night from the judge who granted Thompson and Venables anonymity. Baroness Butler-Sloss said that Venables, who has recently been returned to prison after allegedly breaching the terms of his release, could be killed if his anonymity was breached. "Those who wanted to kill him in 2001 are likely to be out there now," she told the House of Lords.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw has come under pressure from the tabloids in recent days to explain why the decision has been taken to send Venables back to jail, nine years after he was released.
He has refused to do so on the basis that revealing details could prejudice the chance of a fair trial for Venables, and yesterday received some qualified support from the mother of James Bulger, Denise Fergus, who said she was "prepared to wait a bit longer" to find out the full details.
Why Jon Venables wants to reveal his true identity
By Coline Covington
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were found guilty of killing the toddler, Jamie Bulger, in 1993. The youngest people to be jailed for murder in English history, they were released from custody under license in 2001. Both were given government protection of new identities so they could live a normal life outside prison with guaranteed anonymity. This protection was first granted to Mary Bell in similar circumstances.
Now aged 27, Venables has been recalled to prison for breaching his licence. The Justice Secretary will not reveal the nature of his violation, but press rumours suggest variously that he beat someone up at work, that he was seen in Liverpool clubs chatting up girls when he is banned from Merseyside, and/or that he has been caught snorting coke.
The most serious allegation, reported on Sunday, is that he committed an offence involving child pornography. There is no confirmation of any of these violations, but it is clear that the breach must have been serious for Venables to be recalled to prison.
What is undoubtedly of great concern and curiosity - is that Venables has been telling people who he really is. He has been described as being in a state of "persistent self-disclosure", in which he has felt increasingly compelled to disclose his real identity to others, including strangers.
Having disclosed his identity to fellow prisoners and prison staff, he is now being held in isolation due to his deteriorating mental condition. There is also the fear that his real identity will become widely known throughout the prison system - putting him at great risk.
A new identity costs the government approximately £250,000 to create. There is also an emotional cost to the person who takes up a new identity. "Double lives are a burden for people," Ian Cumming, a consultant forensic psychiatrist, explains. The secrecy itself "takes its toll" but there is the further burden of what Dr Cumming describes as "the national demonisation of an individual".
While leading a double life is something that most of us would abhor, except in our occasional fantasy, in the case of Venables it is vital for self-preservation. So why tell?
There is a somewhat confused picture of Venables's mental state at the time of his conviction. During their incarceration, before trial, it was Thompson who was described as the psychopath. Venables, on the other hand, cried frequently and suffered from nightmares in which he saw James Bulger in his room. He was also held up by staff as being a role model for other young offenders.
However, during their trial it was revealed that it was Venables who first suggested to Thompson, "Let's get a kid lost", and who told the adults who stopped him as he was leading the distressed Bulger by the hand through the shopping mall that he was his "little brother".
Hours later, Bulger had been beaten to death by the two 10-year-olds on a railway line. Although by this account Venables was in charge, he was also the one who suffered the most subsequently.
As a child, Venables had a history of trouble-making and disturbed behaviour at school. He once attacked another child so ferociously that it took two teachers to separate them. His mother was violent and suffered from depression, his two siblings had special needs and there was no father in the household. It is arguable that his eight years in custody would in many respects have equipped him to deal with the difficulties of life better than his family could have done.
Since his release from prison, claims have been made that Venables has become a heavy drinker, uses drugs, and has been involved in confrontations and fights. Venables would most certainly have received some form of rehabilitative care in custody, but the nature of this care is not reported. Whatever therapy was provided, it does not seem to have been effective in keeping Venables's demons at bay.
It is most likely that Venables's compulsion to disclose his identity is rooted in his sense of guilt and need for punishment. His murderous attack on a younger child indicates an intense hatred and envy of a child whom he may have perceived as loved and wanted in comparison to his own experience of life.
His own unconscious guilt was manifest in his nightmares immediately following Bulger's murder. The spectre of what he has done and his self-loathing are clearly just as alive and virulent today as they were when he was a boy of 10 - perhaps even more so.
For someone who is not psychopathic and who feels remorse and concern, having to continue to hide their crime may well drive them insane. It is ironic that by all reports Thompson, who was described as psychopathic, seems in contrast to have settled into his new life.
Venables's apparent self-destructiveness may be his attempt to seek some form of acceptance of who he really is and a release from his internal persecution. There is the conflicting hope of being forgiven along with a darker desire for the murderer within him to be destroyed. He seems to be looking for a parent who will excise his sins and restore him to the world and the possibility of being loved even if it is at the cost of his own life.
The predicament for Venables is that he has destroyed his chance of living a normal life under his own identity. This is not only a loss that is inconceivable for most of us but it is a loss that he must find some way of coming to terms with in order to truly create a new identity and a new life.
Coline Covington is a London-based psychoanalyst
Bulger killer in prison ‘on child porn charges’
The reason why Jon Venables, one of the killers of James Bulger, was returned to prison - as reported here last week - is that he committed child porn offences, it has been alleged. Venables is also believed to have repeatedly revealed his true identity to members of the public in the nine years since he was released from jail on licence.
The Sunday Mirror printed the allegations of child porn following a week of claims from the tabloid press and Bulger’s mother that the public had a right to know why Venables had been recalled to prison.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw has said that Venables faces "extremely serious allegations", but has refused to elaborate on the grounds that it might "undermine the integrity of the criminal justice process".
Investigators suspected there might have been a sexually abusive dimension to the abduction and murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993, but it was never properly established because Venables and Robert Thompson, both aged 10 at the time, turned hysterical whenever this line of questioning was brought up.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that Venables has been transferred to the hospital wing of the prison where he is being held due to his rapid mental deterioration. He is being kept in isolation because of his compulsion to reveal his true identity to other people, putting him at increased risk of attack.
The Observer quotes an unnamed source as saying Venables, who has turned to heavy drinking and drug use, is in a state of "persistent state of self-disclosure" which has put him at risk of confrontations with members of the public during his time on conditional release.
Venables will appear at a parole board hearing within 28 days, where it will be decided whether he will face trial on the new charges.