Jon Venables, toddler killer who murdered when he was just 10, denied parole

Undated police handout photo of Jon Venables, one of the child killers of toddler James Bulger.
Undated police handout photo of Jon Venables, one of the child killers of toddler James Bulger. The Associated Press

Toddler killer Jon Venables will stay behind bars after a parole board rejected his bid for freedom.

Venables was just 10 years old when he and his friend, Robert Thompson, who was also 10 at the time, lured two-year-old James Bulger away from his mother at a shopping centre in northern England in 1993 and tortured him to death.

His mutilated body was found on nearby train tracks two days later.

James Bulger holding the hand of one of his murderers is caught on tape from a supermarket monitoring camera video. Mathieu Polak / Sygma via Getty Images

The pair was convicted of murder and after spending eight years in youth custody, they were released in 2001 with new identities and a court order protecting their anonymity

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However, Venables found himself back behind bars after being convicted of child pornography charges in 2010, reigniting debate over whether he should have been released from prison in the first place.

Prison photos show Robert Thompson (L) and Jon Venables (R) after they were arrested for the killing of James Bulger. Getty Images

On Wednesday, the U.K. Parole Board said Venables, now 41, would not be released as he remains a danger to children.

“After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made while in custody and on licence, and the evidence presented in the dossier, the panel was not satisfied that release at this point would be safe for the protection of the public,” The Guardian quotes the Parole Board’s ruling.

FILE – The coffin holding James Bulger is seen on the day of his funeral in 1993. Andrew Stenning / Mirrorpix / Getty Images

“It noted the risks as set out above, doubted Mr Venables’ ability to be open and honest with professionals, and concluded that there remained a need for him to address outstanding levels of risk, and to develop his relationship with his probation officer.”

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The decision came after a number of delays following a closed-door hearing by the Parole Board in November.

A summary of the latest decision, viewed by the BBC, said that Venables “accepted that he had a long-term sexual interest in children/indecent images of children” and has a history of taking drugs and secretly trying to access the internet, which is a breach of conditions of previous sentencing.

James Bulger is shown in a file photo. The Canadian Press

It also said that despite Venables participating in work to address his sexual proclivities toward children, there are concerns about his “issues of sexual preoccupation” and also “future risks” of viewing child pornography and “progressing to offences where he might have contact with children.”

Because Venables and Thompson were given new names and identities to protect them when they were first released from jail as teen, Bulger’s family was not allowed to attend.

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Speaking to the Mirror last month, Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, said: “(Venables) seems to have the upper hand. He gets protected. He gets a new identity. He gets a private hearing. Sometimes it feels like we are the criminals, not him, which is ridiculous.”

FILE – Denise Fergus, the mother of murdered two-year-old James Bulger, attends a press conference to launch an appeal to raise funds for bullied children on March 14, 2008 in Liverpool, England. Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Fergus also submitted a message to the Parole Board for consideration before Wednesday’s hearing, reports The Guardian.

“Look into my eyes and see what I’ve had to deal with for 30 years – three decades of hell. Keep people safe from this monster, because that is what he is, and don’t give him what he wants.”

On Wednesday, the charity set up in Bulger’s name celebrated the decision to keep Venables locked up.

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“This is a day Denise has waited for, The prospect of him coming out again was terrifying as we knew he’d harm again. This is a day we mark as a day of justice, not just for James but for all victims of crime who have to go through the parole system, we thank the parole board for making the correct decision,” the organization posted on social media.

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