James Bulger killer refused parole as victim’s father speaks out


Imogen Braddick
James Bulger killer Jon Venables has been refused parole and must remain in prison to serve his sentence for possessing indecent images of children.

Two-year-old James was tortured and killed by Venables and Robert Thompson – who were both aged 10 – after they snatched him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993.

Thompson and Venables were jailed for life but released on licence with new identities in 2001.

Venables, 36, was sent back to prison in 2010 and 2017 for possessing indecent images of children. He is currently serving a 40-month sentence, passing the halfway mark in October.

In April, the Parole Board confirmed a review of his case had been referred and it would determine whether a hearing needed to take place to decide if he should be released.

A spokeswoman for the Parole Board said: “We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board did not direct the release of Mr Venables following an assessment of his case.

“Under current legislation Mr Venables will be eligible for a further review within two years. The date of the next review will be set by the Ministry of Justice.”

Speaking to the Mirror, James’ father Ralph Bulger said the “right decision” had been made for the “first time ever”.

“I am so relieved because I was convinced he was getting out – just as he has done before,” he said.

“He may not stay in jail for ever, but just knowing he is behind bars means children are safe from him for at least another two years.”

He added: “I have always said that Venables is a dangerous predatory paedophile and should never be freed from prison, but no one has listened until now.

“They let him out twice before and he has always re-offended.

“Now the parole officers have seen the light and agreed that he is not safe to be released.

“I can’t express how much of a relief that is – I’ve spent the last few months dreading the phone call to say he was back on the streets.

“It will never be safe to free him and I hope that they enforce his life licence and keep him locked away for ever now.”

The case has was deferred in June while the board awaited the findings of more psychiatric reports.

In August, the murdered child’s mother Denise Fergus urged the board to deny Venables early release and “finally admit this man is a threat and danger to society”, claiming he had shown “no remorse or any signs of being rehabilitated”.

At the time, a Parole Board spokesman said public safety was the “number one priority” and the panel would “carefully look at a range of evidence, including details of the original case, and any evidence of behaviour change”.