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James Bulger’s mother’s plea as son’s killer Jon Venables makes parole bid for freedom

The mother of murder victim James Bulger has “begged” the parole board overseeing the potential release of her son’s killer Jon Venables not to set him free as a hearing takes place this week.

Venables and Robert Thompson tortured and killed two-year-old James Bulger after snatching him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993. They were just 10-years-old at the time.

The two boys were jailed for life but released on licence with new identities in 2001 when they turned 18.  While Thompson, now 41, has never reoffended, Venables was sent back to prison in 2010 and 2017 for possessing indecent images of children, and was given a 40-month sentence.

He was turned down for parole in 2020 having served the minimum terms of his sentence but was found ineligible for release.

Venables is now to face his second parole hearing – a case set for two days, starting on Tuesday.

Jon Venables, 10 years of age, poses for a mugshot for British authorities February 20, 1993 (Getty Images)
Jon Venables, 10 years of age, poses for a mugshot for British authorities February 20, 1993 (Getty Images)

The private hearing could potentially see him released from prison before the end of the year, despite calls from justice minister Alex Chalk and his predecessor Dominic Cummins to keep him incarcerated.

The hearing is scheduled for 14 and 15 November, and a decision on whether prisoners can be released is usually made within 14 days.

Denise Fergus said she would “crumble” if Venables, who she describes as a “monster” was released again.

Denise Fergus, the mother of murdered toddler James Bulger, is pleading with parole board bosses to keep Venables behind bars (PA Archive)
Denise Fergus, the mother of murdered toddler James Bulger, is pleading with parole board bosses to keep Venables behind bars (PA Archive)

She described living through “three decades of hell” as a result of Venables killing her son and called on the parole board bosses to “keep people from this monster, because that is what he is, and don’t give him what he wants”.

She toldThe Mirror: “Our fate is in the hands of parole board bosses, so I beg them to make the right decision for everyone and keep my son’s killer behind bars.

“Venables has had so many chances in the past and he’s blown them all. He doesn’t care. He seriously doesn’t care about anybody.”

James Bulger's father weeps as he begs to keep killer Jon Venables in prison (TalkTV)
James Bulger's father weeps as he begs to keep killer Jon Venables in prison (TalkTV)

Despite requests to have the hearing made public, the chair of the Parole Board for England and Wales confirmed that the panel had to respect a long-standing legal order that bans the public identification of Venables.

The hearing will then take place behind closed doors.

“If even parts of the hearing were held in public, there is a risk that some information could inadvertently be revealed, putting Jon Venables at risk and breaching the injunction,” parole chair Caroline Corby said.

There is also the risk that any staff who support Venables’s release could withdraw from proceedings for fear for their own safety, the Parole Board chief found.

Speaking about the prospect of Venables’s releases, Ms Fergus said:  “I will feel like I have let James down.

“I have to have hope. I believe parole bosses will see what this man is capable of, what he could inflict on society.

“If his parole is rejected, we will rejoice. It’s been such a long journey. James deserves that justice.”