February 2018

Venables jailed again

The mother of murdered toddler James Bulger has accused the authorities of “colluding” to cover up his killer’s behaviour after he was today sent back to prison

Jon Venables, who was given lifelong anonymity with a new identity when he was released on licence in 2001, has been jailed after admitting possessing more than 1,000 indecent images of children and a paedophile manual.

Mr Justice Edis described the pictures as “vile” and “heartbreaking”, adding that many showed abuse of young boys like James.

Police found a total of 1,170 indecent images: 392 judged to be in category A (the most serious), 148 from category B and 630 from category C.

Venables, who was sent back to prison in November after he was caught with the pictures, appeared via video link from custody during the hearing at the Old Bailey in London.

He was sentenced to three years and four months in prison, with James’ parents Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger in court to see their son’s killer learn his fate.

Chris Johnson, a spokesman for Ms Fergus, branded the sentence a “farce” and said Venables would feel like he had “got away with it”.

He accused the authorities of colluding to cover up Venables’ behaviour and called for a public inquiry into the case.

Mr Johnson said the disclosure in court that Venables was issued with a caution in 2015 when he gained access to the internet was “part of a pattern of collusion between Venables and the authorities”.

Sky News has contacted the Ministry of Justice and the Parole Board for comment.

This is the second time Venables has been caught with such material, having been jailed for two years in 2010 after admitting charges of downloading and distributing child abuse images.

The court heard that the latest images were of children mainly aged between six and 13, although some were younger.

Police found a paedophile manual, aimed at teaching abusers how to have sex with children “safely”.

Prosecutor Louis Mably QC told the court: “The manual is a disgusting and sickening document which falls far below any recognisable standard of morality.”

As he was being taken to a police station, the court that Venables admitted he had “let people down” and told officers he had “stupid urges”.

Mr Mably told the Old Bailey that Venables had software on his computer to browse the dark web and admitted downloading the material from there.

A report had found that Venables was a “high risk of real harm to children in the future” and has a “long-term and profound interest in children”, the court heard.

Venables and his classmate Robert Thompson abducted, tortured and killed two-year-old James in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1993.

They were both aged 10 when they committed a crime that shocked the country with its barbarity.

Venables was released after serving eight years for the murder and has breached the terms of his licence numerous times since.

As well as being caught with abuse images in 2010, Venables was given a formal warning after being arrested on suspicion of affray following a drunken brawl in 2008 and cautioned for possession of cocaine that same year.

Sentencing Venables, Mr Justice Edis told him the images he downloaded were “heartbreaking for any ordinary person to see this kind of material”.

He described the manual as a “vile document” and told Venables that, as a consumer of these “products of barbarous evil”, he in turn caused it to happen.

The judge added that the offences Venables committed while on licence showed he was a “manipulative and dishonest” man.

As well as his prison sentence, Venables was also made the subject of a sexual harm prevention order and Mr Justice Edis ordered that his laptop be taken away.

September 2013

James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables has been secretly freed from jail

The beast, 31, was released with his fourth new identity last week

James Bulger’s furious parents last night warned evil Venables can never be trusted.

Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger claimed he has fooled the Parole Board into releasing him — and insist it’s a matter of time before the pervert strikes again.

Venables was secretly freed last week after being caged in 2010 for downloading vile images of children as young as two being abused.

He previously served eight years for killing James in 1993.

Denise, of Kirkby, Merseyside — who said she was informed of his release only yesterday — 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.”

Venables — who at ten tortured and killed James, two, with pal Robert Thompson after abducting him from a shopping centre in Bootle — was granted parole on July 4.

It has taken officials two months to prepare him for release with a fourth new identity — but Ralph believes they will not be able to stop him committing crimes against kids again.

He told a friend last night: “God help anyone who is around this murdering paedophile.

“He can’t control his urges towards children and I’m devastated to think another child will become his next victim. It is disgraceful to let him free.”

He and Denise blasted the Parole Board for not telling them Venables was free until after he got out. Ralph said: “As ever, Venables is treated with kid gloves while James’s family is treated as if we don’t matter.”

September 2012

After receiving my second injunction from the attorney general’s office, I have decided to take the photos and information that revealed the current identity of Jon Venables dated 2008-2010 off this page. As much as I would like to keep them here for all to see, I cannot lay this whole database on the line for one offender. It is therefore my final decision to remove all the info that exposes Venables current identity, so as to keep the remaining approx 35,000 offenders profiled on here. Full passage of events of the crimes of Venables and Thompson remain, scroll down …….


WARNING – This complete profile contains the actual events of the torture and killing. 

Jon Venables was just 10 years old when he and friend Robert Thompson murdered toddler James Bulger.

Venables served seven years of a life sentence for the 1993 murder before he was freed in June 2001, aged 18. He was given a new name, a job and a flat on his release to try to ensure his security and give him an “ordinary” life.

James Bulger (pic below)

Had he gone on to lead such a life, that might have been the last the British public ever heard about Jon Venables. But at the age of 27, Venables finds himself back in the headlines and back behind bars having been jailed for two years after pleading guilty to charges of downloading and distributing indecent images of children. The worst of them depicted penetrative sex with seven- or eight-year-olds.

See also – The interviews: Robert Thompson/Jon Venables

A lifetime ban was placed on reporting anything about either his or Thompson’s whereabouts or their new identities after their release.

See also – Profile of a Child killer – Robert Thompson

Everyone around him was said to have been shocked to discover that Venables was a paedophile. Nobody, apparently, had seen that coming. It is the great and enduring mystery of the Bulger case: why, among all the experts who had met him and worked with him during his years of detention, was there a consensus that Venables was rehabilitated? The risk he posed was “trivial”, said Sir Michael Rutter, one of this country’s most eminent child psychiatrists, after meeting Venables — and not for the first time, either — in the run-up to his parole in 2000. How wrong they all were about him.

New details

The ban relating to Venables was partially lifted on Friday at the Old Bailey after he was jailed for the offences under the 1978 Protection of Children Act. The judge revealed that Venables had been living in Cheshire at the time of the offences, and that the case was dealt with by Cheshire police and Cheshire probation service.

It was also revealed that Cheshire police had produced a “threat assessment” to try to establish what could happen to Venables were his new identity revealed. That assessment concluded that Venables would face the highest possible risk of being attacked if his name was either published in the media or known elsewhere in society.

Police had even trained him in counter-surveillance after he was told he would have to “live and hold a lie” for the rest of his life. Venables worked full-time in a job with anti-social hours, earning close to the minimum wage, the court heard.

Then in 2007, he started drinking heavily and taking drugs, including cocaine and the recently-banned substance mephedrone.

On 20 September 2008, he was held on suspicion of affray over a street fight with a man who claimed Venables had attacked his girlfriend. Both men were charged with a public order offence, but this was later dropped.

Venables was formally warned by the Probation Service for breaking a “good behaviour” clause in his licence. Three months later, police cautioned him for possessing cocaine, and a requirement was added to his licence ordering him to address his alcohol and drug problems, the court was told.

It was not until February that it emerged Venables had been recalled to prison for breaching the conditions of his release. The Ministry of Justice refused to reveal any details, but the then Justice Secretary Jack Straw did say the recall was prompted by “extremely serious allegations”.

Venables was later charged with three offences.

The first involved downloading 57 indecent pictures of children on to his computer between February 2009 and February 2010. The second involved distributing three indecent photographs of children in February 2010, while a third involved distributing 42 images in February 2008. He pleaded guilty to these charges.

Some of the images involved children as young as two years old and some showed the rape of young girls. The Old Bailey also heard that in 2008 Venables had posed as a mother offering to sell her daughter for sex during three online chats with another paedophile.

The crime and murder

It was on 12 February 1993 that two-year-old James Bulger was snatched from the New Strand Centre in Bootle, on Merseyside, while his mother Denise was shopping.

The moment was caught on CCTV and became the defining image of a horrific case. In the picture, it is Venables who is holding James’s hand.

CCTV evidence from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle taken on 12 February 1993 showed Thompson and Venables casually observing children, apparently selecting a target. The boys were playing truant from school, which they did regularly. Throughout the day, Thompson and Venables were seen stealing various items including sweets, a troll doll, some batteries and a can of blue paint, some of which were later found at the murder scene. It was later revealed by one of the boys that they were planning to find a child to abduct, lead him to the busy road alongside the mall, and push him into the path of oncoming traffic.

That same afternoon, James Bulger (often called “Jamie” by the press, although never by his family), from nearby Kirkby, went with his mother Denise to the New Strand Shopping Centre. While inside the A.R. Tym’s butcher shop at around 3:40 pm, Denise, who had been momentarily distracted, realised that her son had disappeared.He had been wandering by the open door of the shop while she placed an order, and was spotted by Thompson and Venables. They approached him and spoke to him, before taking him by the hand and leading him out of the precinct. This moment was captured on a CCTV camera recording timestamped at 15:42.

The boys took Bulger on a meandering 2.5-mile (4.0 km) walk across Liverpool to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal where he was dropped on his head and suffered injuries to his face. The boys joked about pushing Bulger into the canal.During the walk across Liverpool, the boys were seen by 38 people. 

Bulger had a bump on his forehead and was crying, but most bystanders did nothing to intervene, assuming that he was a younger brother. Two people challenged the older boys, but they claimed that Bulger was a younger brother or that he was lost and they were taking him to the local police station. At one point, the boys took Bulger into a pet shop, from which they were ejected.

Eventually the boys arrived in the village of Walton, and with Walton Lane police station across the road facing them, they hesitated and led Bulger up a steep bank to a railway line near the disused Walton & Anfield railway station, close to Anfield Cemetery, where they began torturing him

‘Unparalleled evil’

Two days later, after a huge police search, James’s battered body was found on a railway line more than two miles away. A few days later, Venables and Thompson were arrested and charged – the youngest people to be accused of murder in the 20th Century.

At the trial it was established that at this location, one of the boys threw blue Humbrol modelling paint, which they had shoplifted earlier, into Bulger’s left eye. They kicked and stamped on him, and threw bricks and stones at him. Batteries were placed in Bulger’s mouth. Police believed some batteries may have been inserted into his anus, although none were found there.[3] Finally, a 22-pound (10.0 kg) iron bar, described in court as a railway fishplate, was dropped on him. Bulger suffered ten skull fractures as a result of the iron bar striking his head. Dr. Alan Williams, the case’s pathologist, stated that Bulger suffered so many injuries—42 in total—that none could be isolated as the fatal blow.

Police suspected that there was a sexual element to the crime, since Bulger’s shoes, stockings, trousers and underpants had been removed. The pathologist’s report read out in court stated that Bulger’s foreskin had been forcibly retracted.When questioned about this aspect of the attack by detectives and the child psychiatrist, Dr. Eileen Vizard, Thompson and Venables were reluctant to give details; they also vehemently denied inserting some of the batteries into Bulger’s anus.At his eventual parole, Venables’ psychiatrist until he was aged 21, Dr. Susan Bailey, reported that “visiting and revisiting the issue with Jon as a child, and now as an adolescent, he gives no account of any sexual element to the offence.”

Before they left him, the boys laid Bulger across the railway tracks and weighted his head down with rubble, in the hope that a train would hit him and make his death appear to be an accident. After Bulger’s killers left the scene, his body was cut in half by a train. Bulger’s severed body was discovered two days later, on 14 February. A forensic pathologist testified that he had died before he was struck by the train

They were tried as adults and made to stand in the dock away from their parents, while the judges and barristers wore full gowns and wigs. Some seven years later, the Court of Human Rights would rule that they should never have been tried in an adult court.

Red Bank secure unit on Merseyside

Venables was detained in Vardy House, a small eight-bedded unit at Red Bank secure unit in St. Helens on Merseyside — the same facility where, 25 years prior, Mary Bell had been held for half of her 12-year sentence

During the trial, the full horror of James’ death emerged. He had been tortured – beaten with bricks and an iron bar. He had so many injuries it was hard to determine which had been fatal.

In court, Venables was the more emotional of the two defendants, crying openly and leaning against the shoulder of his social worker.

Both boys were said to have had difficult home lives and both had been playing truant from school on the day of the killing.

They were convicted after a 17-day trial and only then were their names and faces revealed. Summing up, the judge, Mr Justice Morland, told them they had committed a crime of “unparalleled evil and barbarity”.

But he also laid blame with their parents, calling for a public debate about “the home background, upbringing, family circumstances, parental behaviour and relationships” of children who commit “grave crimes”.

The detention

Thompson was held at the Barton Moss secure unit in Manchester, which housed 14 young offenders and was divided into three wings, including one for girls. Venables was detained in Vardy House, a small eight-bedded unit at Red Bank secure unit in St. Helens on Merseyside — the same facility where, 25 years prior,Mary Bell had been held for half of her 12-year sentence. These locations were not publicly known until after the boys’ release.

Details of the boys’ lives were recorded twice daily on running sheets and signed by the member of staff who had written them. The records were stored at the units and copied to officials in Whitehall. The boys were taught to lie about their real names and to conceal the crime they had committed which resulted in them being in the units. Venables’ parents regularly visited their son at Red Bank, just as Thompson’s mother did — every three days — at Barton Moss.

The boys received education and rehabilitation; despite initial problems, Venables was said to have eventually made good progress at Red Bank, resulting in him being kept there for the full eight years, despite the facility only being a short-stay remand unit.Thompson was said, by a social worker who observed him for his eight years at Barton Moss, to be well-behaved and intelligent, and to have coped well with his situation, adjusting to life in the secure unit quickly, but never showing any remorse or interest in his crime. By the age of 14, Thompson was taken on outings to the theatre, the Lake District, and shopping centres, where he could spend some of the £60-per-month allowance he received.

At the age of 16, he acquired a girlfriend, a fellow inmate who served time in the unit for one year. Venables was taken on trips to Wales, swimming in Wigan, and once to watch a Manchester United football match at Old Trafford. Both boys, however, were reported to suffer posttraumatic stress disorder, and Venables in particular told of experiencing nightmares and flashbacks to the murder

The then home secretary, David Blunkett, added his own conditions to their licence and insisted on being fed daily reports so that he could keep tabs on what the two young men were up to. The bureaucrats were so desperate to protect their projects — Venables and Thompson — and watch their own backs that they routinely deceived and withheld information about them from people who ought to have been told.

The deception was mainly intended to protect Venables’ new identity from becoming known, but has been described to me by someone close to the case as “a conspiracy of lies” that began to unravel when Venables started getting into trouble, at least two years before he was discovered with child pornography. He, too, lied to people who ought to have seen through his deception.

His offender manager gave him money out of her own pocket when he claimed to be broke (it later turned out Venables was buying cocaine and “meow meow” — mephedrone), and went round to play darts with Venables at his fl at to stave off his loneliness. She noted that he was on the internet a lot. Unbeknown to her, he was also visiting Merseyside, breaking one of the key conditions of his parole, which was to keep him away from the city where the parents of his victim still lived. He ought to have been sent straight back to prison for that alone, but somehow nobody knew what he was up to

Venables remained free for at least two years while he pulled the wool over the eyes of almost everyone, from the justice secretary downwards. His minders during his release thought Venables was suffering delayed adolescence, that he was emotionally under-developed as a result of years in captivity. One thought he was five years behind in age development. Like a lot of adolescents, he was hard to get to open up.

One probation offi cer noted he did “not easily share issues. It is quite diffi cult to get information from him and this is not necessarily because he is resistant, but just because of the person that he is”. What kind of person was that? Someone with a secret? That idea does not seem to have occurred to anyone, until it was too late. Such a pattern of secrets and lies has, to some extent, defined Venables’ life

Venables, around 17 at the time, was a vulnerable teenager in secure care and the staff member was supposed to be responsible for him. Instead she was accused of sexual misconduct and suspended. She never returned to work at Red Bank. The scandal has been hidden for more than a decade and many people have lived in dread of it becoming public. I was able to piece together the events with information from high-level government officials who were closely involved, and former senior members of the Red Bank staff.

The emergence of the apparent relationship was potentially highly damaging to Venables as he approached parole. The incident ought to have been reported immediately, triggering an investigation, possibly even a police probe, into the abuse of power and breach of trust by the woman involved. Instead, a brief mention of the relationship, tucked away in a regular written review sent by Red Bank to the Home Office, was the first anyone outside the unit knew of it. When challenged, Red Bank denied trying to bury what had happened and claimed they had told the Home Office earlier, in a phone call.

It is no exaggeration to say that the state has invested millions in the rehabilitation of Venables and Thompson. Nowadays, it costs around £200,000 a year to keep a child in secure care. Back then it was £100,000. The two boys were detained for eight years. Police spent £278,000 looking after Venables in the first year of his release. Venables was assigned his own police unit as his new identity was prepared, which supported him in his Þ rst months of freedom. It was there to protect him from those who would do him harm out of revenge. The risk to Venables and Thompson was constantly assessed and always judged clear and credible.

From the start he was taught to lie, to hide his notoriety as the Bulger killer, even though, at that stage, his name was protected by a court order and was not known to the public. On the advice of Red Bank staff, he at first used to tell fellow residents he was a twocker (taking a car without the owners consent), instead of a murderer.It was not long before some staff began to be concerned

When speaking to the dentist, Jon was asked his name and date of birth. He lied as adults have taught him about his name and seemed in a quandary about his date of birth. He gave his real d of b (are we to falsify medical records too?) Wherewill this deception end?

The answer was it would never end. In fact, it would only intensify as Venables had a whole new identity created for him, hurriedly, on his release in 2001, and a new type of lie to contend with his life, as Sir David Omand called it in his recent report Ñ which was supported by a thorough fabrication of everything from passport and national insurance number to GCSE certiÞ cates and, just as the Red Bank staff member had presciently suggested, a complete set of medical records. After his release, not even his GP knew his real identity

In March 2002, he began living independently, the authorities had already
considered and dismissed relocating him abroad, and considered and dismissed placing him with a foster family — which again raises the question of where his own family were when they had remained at the centre of his life all through his years of detention.

Venables began a relationship with a woman with a five-year-old child, and kept it a secret from his supervisor for seven months, nobody knew. If social services had known about Venables, they would have been concerned for the safety of the child.

Venables claimed he had never met the child. But who knows whether he was telling the truth? Was he already, by then, cruising the internet for images of child sex? There is no evidence that anyone interviewed Venables’ girlfriend after their relationship was disclosed. Was her child safe and unharmed? Nobody seemed troubled to find out. Instead, the committees sat around considering whether they had a duty to tell a future Venables’ girlfriend of his true identity

By spring 2004, the warning signs were there. Venables was struggling with his studies and finances. As Malcolm Stevens points out, there is no indication he had ever been prepared to manage money. A year later he had dropped out of college, left his flat because of debts and was struggling to fi nd work. In spite of all the help that ought to have been available, his descent into chaos and criminality had begun.

When the offender manager met another girlfriend of Venables and she turned out to be just 17 — Venables was by now in his midtwenties — there were concerns as to whether “young girlfriends” were part of a pattern with him. It is not hard to see what kind of pattern was being imagined. But it was concluded that he was just having a delayed adolescence. Once again, there was no cause for alarm

After a period of apparently reduced supervision, Venables began excessively drinking, taking drugs, downloading child pornography, as well as visiting Merseyside (a breach of a fundamental condition of his licence). In 2008 a new probation officer noted that he spent “a great deal of leisure time” playing video games and on the Internet. In September that year, Venables was arrested on suspicion of affray after a fight outside a nightclub; he claimed he was acting in self-defence and the charges were later dropped after he agreed to go on an alcohol-awareness course. Three months later he was found to be in possession of cocaine; he was subjected to a curfew.

On two separate occasions, Venables revealed to a friend his true identity. It was on 22 February 2010 that Venables phoned his probation officer to report his fear that his identity had been compromised. Upon arriving at his flat, the officer found Venables attempting to remove or destroy the hard drive of his computer by using a screwdriver and hammer. This led to the confiscation of the computer and discovery of the child abuse images

2010: Jon Venables ‘used mobile phone to take 1,200 pictures up women’s skirts’

Jon Venables was arrested in a drunken street brawl after he allegedly tried to take a photo up a woman’s skirt

The 27-year-old, who was jailed for two years last week for downloading and distributing indecent/abusive images of children, was accused of leering by the woman’s boyfriend in 2008.

This sparked a furious brawl and Venables was later charged with a public order offence.

The case was dropped due to insufficient evidence, but officers found a folder called ‘Up Skirts’ on his computer – containing 1,200 images – after his arrest earlier this year.

It was the second time Venables had been held by police after hew was arrested for possession of cocaine in December 2008 – but again escaped a jail term.

The Old Bailey heard that the images were ‘surreptitiously taken photos of women’s crotch areas’. Venables is alleged to have used his mobile phone to take the sordid pictures.