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Crime reforms James Bulger killer Jon Venables pushes for parole before new law could block freedom

Serious crime reforms in the UK could see ministers able to block the release of dangerous killers


Jon Venables at the time of the James Bulger murder

Jon Venables at the time of the James Bulger murder

Jon Venables at the time of the James Bulger murder

The murderer of two-year-old James Bulger, Jon Venables, is pushing for parole before a new UK law could stop him from ever being freed from prison.

Venables, who killed the toddler in 1993 with pal Robert Thompson when they were 10-years-old, could have a parole hearing as early as September.

It comes as new serious crime reforms would allow government ministers to block the release of dangerous criminals for the safety of the public.

The bill, which could take a year to be signed into law, was proposed by Justice Secretary Dominic Raab.

Ralph Bulger, James Bulger’s father, has asked to present at the parole hearing to explain why Venables’ release should be blocked.

“If the Justice Secretary is serious on reform then he must allow me to be present at Venables' parole hearing, just as I was at his Old Bailey hearing,” he told The Sun.

“I want Venables to hear why I believe he should have his parole denied.”

“For too long, victims and families have been ignored while authorities put the so-called rights of dangerous criminals first.”

Both Venables and Thompson, who were the youngest convicted murderers in British history, were released from prison in 2001 with new identities.

They both served eight years before being freed on licence with lifelong anonymity, before Venables was put back behind bars for the possession of child sex abuse images in 2010.

He was released just three years later with yet another new identity but was soon back in prison after nearly 1,200 child sex abuse images were found on his laptop in 2017.

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As he was last refused parole in September 2020, it was reported at the time that he would have to spend another two years in jail before he can apply for it again.


James Bulger (PA)

James Bulger (PA)

James Bulger (PA)

In October of last year rumours that Venables has been brutally murdered in prison were dismissed by authorities in the UK.

It had been widely circulated online that the killer of tot James Bulger was attacked and killed by fellow inmates.

Another version of the rumour claimed he had his eyes gouged out then murdered at a party in Port Talbot in Wales.

However, the Ministry of Justice has confirmed that no such attack has taken place and that Venables is in prison and alive.

Venables and Thompson became the youngest convicted murderers in Britain for 250 years when they were found guilty, with the judge at their trial in November of that year branding James' murder an act of "unparalleled evil and barbarity."

The killers were held in a secure children’s unit in St Helens, Merseyside, for eight years before being released under strict conditions in 2001.

They were both given new names and identities after serving their sentence for murder but Venables has been in and out of prison since the murder conviction, and was back behind bars in 2010 for downloading and distributing indecent images of children.

When officers arrived at his flat, Venables was attempting to remove or destroy the hard drive of his computer with a knife and tin opener.

The computer was taken away and 57 indecent images of children over a 12-month period were found.

In July 2010, Venables appeared at the Old Bailey via video link which was only visible to the judge.

He pleaded guilty to charges of downloading and distributing child sex images and was given a sentence of two years in prison.

Venables was given another new identity after a "serious security breach" which could not be reported for legal reasons.

In September 2013, Venables was released from prison after a parole board approved the move two months before.

However, Venables was recalled to prison in November 2017 when he was caught with child abuse images once again.

The images included category A photos, the most serious type, and he also admitted having a “paedophile manual”.

During his hearing, the court heard that upon his arrest he told cops in the police car: "This is my own fault. I have let people down again.

"I have had urges, inquisitive. It won’t be a slap on the wrist for me.”

Venables, who appeared via a video link that only the judge could see, pleaded guilty to possession of indecent images of children for a second time and was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

Sentencing him to 40 months’ jail in 2018, Mr Justice Edis said: “The children depicted were often very young and vulnerable, there is discernible pain and distress suffered.”

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