James Bulger killer Jon Venables to be freed

James Bulger's father is said to be "filled with terror" over Venables' release, as Ben Geoghegan reports

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One of James Bulger's killers, Jon Venables, should be released from prison, the parole board has said.

Venables was previously paroled, but sent back to jail for accessing child pornography.

James's mother Denise Fergus tweeted in response: "Venables is getting released. Just don't believe what I've got to go through again."

Two-year-old James was killed in Bootle in February 1993 by Venables and Robert Thompson, both aged 10.

The toddler was beaten with bricks and iron bars and his body left on a railway line.

It is not clear when the killer will be released.

A parole board statement said: "We've had confirmation that all parties have been told and we can confirm that it was a release decision. He will be released."

'Reckless decision'

James's father Ralph was "disappointed and dismayed" at the decision, said his solicitor Robin Makin.

Start Quote

The authorities have already experimented with Jon Venables living a lie and it did not work”

End Quote Robin Makin Solicitor for Ralph Bulger

Mr Makin said the parole board had previously decided it was 'not safe' for Jon Venables to be released.

He added: "It is not known what has changed. No reasons for the decision have been given.

"For Ralph and his family the living nightmare continues and is exacerbated by the problems now created by the reckless decision to free Jon Venables without any publicly disclosed safeguards.

"Jon Venables is a sex offender who has murdered once and made it clear when posing as the mother of a child that an 'ultimate thrill' for him was the sexual abuse of a child.

"The authorities have already experimented with Jon Venables living a lie and it did not work."

Solicitor Laurence Lee, who represented Venables's interests during the 1994 murder trial, said: "My heart goes out to Denise Fergus."

But he added: "As a lawyer it is clear that he cannot be kept in prison for ever. He may be released but he will never be at liberty."

In May, Ms Fergus attended a parole hearing via videolink from Liverpool to demand a full examination into the killer's past.

'Indecent images'

James's father Ralph also told the hearing it would be "stupid" to free Venables.

Venables was released in 2001 but jailed again in 2010 after admitting downloading and distributing indecent images of children.

When he was re-arrested, it emerged that Venables, who was given a new identity on release from prison, had breached his parole conditions by visiting Merseyside.

He had developed drug and drink problems, started behaving anti-socially and revealed his real identity to friends.

It was found he downloaded 102 indecent images of children and had been distributing these images.

The Ministry of Justice spokesman said re-releasing life-licensed offenders is directed by the parole board which has to be satisfied the offender can "be safely managed in the community".

In a statement the MoJ said: "Their life licence lasts for the rest of their lives, and they may be recalled to prison at any time for breaching their licence conditions.

"Additionally, they will be subject to strict controls and restrictions for as long as their risk requires them."

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