tragic case | 

Man who found body of murdered tot James Bulger is found dead in police custody

James Riley (44) who was aged 14 when he made the horrific discovery in Merseyside in 1993 led a life of crime in the years after

James Riley

Tragic James (left) and Jon Venables

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

The man who was left traumatised as a teenager after finding the body of murdered tot James (Jamie) Bulger has tragically died in police custody.

James Riley (44) who was aged 14 when he made the horrific discovery in Merseyside in 1993 led a life of crime in the years after.

Riley suffered from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after finding the body of Jamie who had died at the hands of 10-year-old boys Jon Venables and Robert Thompson.

Riley found himself in trouble with the law and ended up being convicted over 40 times for a range of offences.

Accord to the Liverpool Echo, his family say his offending happened after he and his brother Terence Riley found James' body on a railway line in Walton, Merseyside.

The killing which occurred after the pair had led the youngster away a shopping centre before torturing him, shocked the nation.

In May 2017 Riley spent two years behind bars after admitting a spate of commercial burglaries.

Sarah Holt, who defended Riley in that case, said: “He has been a drug addict for a considerable period of time – all his adult life and in fact most of his adolescence.

Tragic James (left) and Jon Venables

“His problems can be traced back to when he was 14, when he experienced a very traumatic event. It was an event I suggest that meant he is suffering from PTSD, though not diagnosed.

"He never sought counselling he tells me. That led him at 14 to try crack cocaine and his problems really spiralled from thereon in.”

Two years ago, he was found in a street wearing just his underwear and brandishing a knife after a gang sought money off him for a debt he owed.

Aberdeen Sheriff Court heard that what encountered in 1993 had a lasting impact on his life and he died in police custody earlier this month.

It has been reported that Riley was approached by Merseyside Police on March 14 and taken into custody. He remained in a cell overnight but at around 5pm on March 15, police staff were made aware that he required medical attention.

He was found on the floor of his cell and rushed to hospital in an ambulance. However, upon arrival he was confirmed dead.

The Independent Office for Police Custody (IOPC) is now investigating Riley's death. IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: "This was a tragic incident in which a man has sadly died and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.

"Merseyside Police referred this matter to us, and as he was in the custody of police at the time he became unwell, it is important there is a thorough and independent investigation.

"We will examine all relevant matters including the interaction officers had with the man on the street, and what happened after he arrived at the custody suite. We have made contact with his family to explain our role and will update them as our enquiries progress."

Merseyside Police said they are fully cooperating with the IOPC. A spokesperson for the force said: "We are aware that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the death of a 44-year-old man in police custody in Liverpool on Wednesday, March 15.

"The force’s Professional Standards Department mandatorily referred the matter to the IOPC following the sad news that the man had passed away and we are fully cooperating with their investigation team.

"His next of kin have been informed and Merseyside Police would like to offer its condolences to the family for their loss."

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