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Bulger killer had 'better life' after toddler murder

Robert Thompson Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption Robert Thompson was 10 years old when he and Jon Venables killed James Bulger

One of the killers of Merseyside toddler James Bulger has claimed he had a "better life" in prison as a result of the murder.

Robert Thompson said he had become "a better person" behind bars as he apologised for the killing in a statement to the parole board in 2001.

In the statement, obtained for a Channel 5 documentary, Thompson, now 36, said he was "desperately sorry".

The parole board said it was not able to comment on the statement.

Image copyright PA
Image caption James Bulger was two when he was abducted and killed in 1993

Thompson was 10 years old when he tortured and killed James with his friend Jon Venables after abducting the two-year-old from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, in 1993.

In November that year, they became the youngest children ever to be convicted of murder in England.

CCTV images revealed how James had been lured away by Thompson and Venables, who was also aged 10.

His body was found two days later on a railway line. He had been stripped from the waist down, paint had been thrown in his eyes and he had been beaten to death with bricks and a metal bar.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption CCTV images showed James Bulger being led away by the two boys in a shopping centre

The motive for the murder has always remained unclear and now, 25 years after the verdict, the Channel 5 documentary examined exactly what led two young boys to kill an innocent child.

It included details of Thompson's statement to the parole board, in which he said: "I do feel aware that I am now a better person and have had a better life and a better education than if I had not committed the murder.

"There is obviously an irony to this but it is part of my remorseful feelings as well."

Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption Jon Venables was also convicted for James Bulger's murder

Thompson told the Parole Board he had lied about his involvement after being overwhelmed by the public reaction to the crime.

He said: "I am deeply ashamed of what I did, and of having played a part in this horrible murder."

He also detailed his traumatic childhood before the crime, stating that at the time he was "completely out of control".

He added: "I was out of control because my life on the streets was better for me than my life at home."

In 2001, the pair were released - with new identities - under licence. This means they can be recalled at any time.

Venables was jailed in 2010 for having child abuse images on his computer.

He was also imprisoned earlier this year for the same offence.

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