James Bulger killer Jon Venables granted parole hearing

Jon Venables
Jon Venables has previously been released from prison on two occasions but was sent back both times - PA

Jon Venables, one of Jamie Bulger’s killers, has been granted a two-day parole hearing.

The latest hearing will take place behind closed doors on Nov 14-15, the Parole Board confirmed.

Venables has previously been released from prison on two occasions but was sent back both times after being found in possession of indecent images of children.

Venables and Robert Thompson, both now 41, were just 10 years old when they abducted Jamie Bulger from the New Strand Shopping Centre, in Bootle, in 1993.

The two-year-old’s mutilated body was found two days later on a railway line two and a half miles away in Walton, Liverpool.

Described by the trial judge as “wicked”, he said they had committed a crime of “unparalleled evil and barbarity”.

They were both sentenced to be held in detention for a minimum of eight years or until they were not deemed to be a danger to the public.

Venables was released in 2001 and provided with a new identity, but in 2010 he was returned to prison after being given a two-year sentence for downloading child abuse images.

James Bulger
Jamie Bulger was just two years old when he was murdered in 1993 - PA

He was granted parole in 2013 and, at huge cost to the taxpayer, was provided with a second new identity.

In 2017, he was again returned to prison for possession of child abuse images.

In February 2018, he admitted being in possession of more than 1,000 pictures of children being abused and was sentenced to three years and four months in prison.

In 2020, the Parole Board was asked to review his case when he became eligible, but the panel decided he should not be released.

At the parole hearing, victim impact statements from Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, and father Ralph Bulger, are likely to be read out.

The parents have both pleaded with the Parole Board to reject Venables’ bid to be released.

In 2017, after he was returned to prison for the second time, Ms Fergus said: “Venables has now proved beyond any doubt what a vile, perverted psychopath he has always been.”

The three-person parole panel will also hear evidence from prison staff, psychiatrists and psychologists who have assessed Venables during his time inside.

Robert Thompson
Robert Thompson was released in 2001 under a new identity - BWP Media via Getty Images

They will consider the details of his original crime and any changes in his behaviour since.

A Parole Board spokesman said: “An oral hearing has been listed for the parole review of Jon Venables and is scheduled to take place in November 2023.

“Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

“A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.

“Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead-up to an oral hearing.

“Evidence from witnesses including probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison, as well as victim personal statements, are then given at the hearing.

“The prisoner and witnesses are then questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more.”

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