The parents of murdered toddler James Bulger expressed outrage last night that one of his killers is to be freed again.
Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger said they were ‘filled with terror’ by the decision to grant parole to Jon Venables, 30.
The child killer, who was controversially released from his life sentence in 2001 with a new taxpayer-funded identity, was sent back to jail three years ago after being caught with depraved images of children as young as two on his computer.He admitted downloading and distributing the images, which included some of toddlers being raped, as well as posing online as a mother willing to sell her young daughter for sex.
Again, we pay for new Venables ID
Officials were last night working on giving Jon Venables his third secret new identity.
Taxpayers will pick up the bill, likely to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds, for the move and for monitoring Venables around the clock.
Only a tight-knit cabal operating under conditions of extreme secrecy will know who he really is. One or two senior probation officers will regularly visit Venables to ensure he is adhering to the conditions of his release.
This will include a ban on travelling to Merseyside, and he also faces restrictions on accessing the internet after his 2010 conviction for possessing child abuse images.
Venables was given his first new identity when he was released from a sentence of indefinite imprisonment in 2001 aged 18. In May 2011, his name and background was changed once again after a ‘serious breach’ in the security of the identity he had been using.
Earlier this year officials said they would not give him another identity because he could not be trusted to keep it secret. But they have been forced to change their minds amid mounting fears for his safety if he is outed.
Earlier this year pictures purporting to be of Venables were circulated on the internet, despite an injunction granting him lifetime anonymity.
Only three other people are so notorious that they have been given new identities and made subject to lifelong anonymity orders.
They are Venables’ co-defendant Robert Thompson, Maxine Carr – the ex-girlfriend of Soham murderer Ian Huntley – and child killer Mary Bell.
In May, Mrs Fergus, 45, and Mr Bulger, 46, appeared before the Parole Board via video link for the first time to beg the prison authorities to keep Venables behind bars.
Last night they spoke of their shock that their pleas had been ignored.
They said they had been given no information about the conditions of the killer’s parole.
Venables, who struggled to cope with living a double life the first time round, will receive another new identity at great expense to the taxpayer.
In a statement released through his solicitor, Robin Makin, Mr Bulger said the decision to release Venables was ‘misguided’ and filled him with ‘terror’.
Mr Makin said: ‘For Ralph and his family, the living nightmare continues and is exacerbated by the problems now created by the reckless decision to free Jon Venables without any publicly disclosed safeguards.
‘Jon Venables is a sex offender who has murdered once and made it clear when posing as a mother of a child that an “ultimate thrill” for him was sexual abuse of a child. The authorities have already experimented with Jon Venables living a lie and it did not work.
‘The decision to release Jon Venables is misguided and fills Ralph with terror.
CCTV footage shows the abduction of James Bulger from the Bootle Strand shopping centre in 1993
‘Ralph fears that an innocent person may be mistaken for Jon Venables and be injured or even killed.’
Mrs Fergus said she too was ‘shocked’.
‘Venables has shown time and again that he cannot be trusted and that he is a danger to the public and himself,’ she said. ‘He lies and manipulates people for his own sick ends.
‘He is still a huge risk and . . . I doubt it will ever be safe to be let him out under another false identity. They should keep him locked up for a long time yet.
‘They should not take a huge gamble on letting him out.’
Mrs Fergus submitted evidence, gathered with the help of her solicitor, to the Parole Board that Venables was an ‘undiagnosed psychopath’ who should not be held in a mainstream prison but treated in a psychiatric hospital.
The mother of three said she received assurances that this evidence, and information gathered by the police at the time of James’s murder but never presented to the jury at the trial, which suggested her son had been sexually assaulted before he died,
would be examined in detail before any decision to free him was granted.
Despite this, a spokesman for the Parole Board last night confirmed Venables was to be released. The date of his release has not been disclosed.
Neither Mrs Fergus nor Mr Bulger have been given details of the terms of Venables’ release, a situation Mr Makin described as ‘Kafka-esque’. SOURCE