On February 12 1993, 2-year-old James ‘Jamie’ Bulger was lead away by two 10-year-old lads while his mother paid for some chops for their tea. Two days later, his severed body was found on train tracks. He’d been savagely beaten and tortured and then as he was dying, he had been laid on the tracks so that a train could hit his body.
The senseless and horrific death of a 2-year-old toddler shocked the nation and then the world. The police combed hours of CCTV footage and they spotted Jamie being led through the mall where his mum had purchased the chops. He was holding the hand of one of his killers.
The 2 boys responsible were arrested by the police and questioned after a neighbour of one of the lads had reported that Robert Thompson and his friend Jon Venables had skipped school on the day that Jamie was murdered and Robert had come home with blue paint on his jacket.
A tin of blue paint had been discovered near Jamie’s body.
The trial of Venables and Thompson began on 1 November 1993 and ended on 24 November 1993. The boys were given “life sentence” which in juvenile terms means that they would have to serve a minimum of 8 years of their sentence. Juveniles are sentenced differently from adults under English law. A “life sentence” means anything but.
Due to their young age (both lads were 10) the place of their “incarceration” was at a secure home or unit. Secure units are very different from a prison. Both lads “did well” and stayed at these units for their entire sentence.
In a move that stunned the public, in 2001 both lads were released from the secure units and given parole. They were given new identities; new passports, national insurance numbers and driving licenses, etc. The reports on both lads stressed that they were no longer a threat to the public.
It is interesting to note that both of the lad’s families were re-located and also given new identities while the trial was going on in order to protect them from the public’s outrage.
Despite the obvious indications that Jamie’s murder was sex related and that Thompson showed no remorse or culpability for Jamie’s murder either during the trial or later while he was incarcerated both boys were released with only one addition to their probationary licenses. That addition was that the parole officer should provide daily updates to their behaviour.
Not surprisingly Venables would be re-arrested in 2010 on charges of having indecent images of underage children on his computer and as that was a violation of his parole he was put back in prison. Proper prison this time and not the “nicey nicey” atmosphere of a secure unit.
Thompson has yet to re-offend. *At least as far as we know, he still has a protective anonymous cloak, courtesy of the courts.*
The aspect of this case that is so disgusting and that continues to shock and stun the general public is the amount of time and money the legal system has put toward guaranteeing the anonymity of these two offenders.
There was a worldwide injunction against the press that forbade any information about the two lads being published. Although this injunction was violated enough to tell the public that Venables was, in fact, back in prison and why.
But to the best of my knowledge, not one penny (or pence) was spent on aiding the family of James Bulger. The survivors of this horrific murder against a defenceless 2-year-old paid their own price. His parents Ralph and Denise both suffered from the strain of their ordeal and divorced.
The very idea of losing your child is too difficult to even imagine. The loss of your child by two other older children who were “coddled” by the system is even worse.
A few years back a couple of English “tabloid” newspapers featured a story on just how Juvenile prisoners are treated during their time of incarceration. A long list of “freebies” was listed (all of which is paid by the tax payer, and if you still don’t get it, that means by the victims and survivors of the crime committed) and that list included the use of PS3’s, PS2’s in the prisoners cells, Nintendo Wii‘s, televisions in their cells and day trips.
Incredibly this did not create an uproar. Instead the articles came out and after about three days, no one cared any longer. Despite the obvious message of “rewarding bad behaviour instead of punishing it” the public’s reaction was not just disappointing, but puzzling.
It appears that more of the public have children incarcerated than children who are not. It appears that these parents are more than happy to have their criminal offspring set up with three square meals a day and all the benefits that the tax payer can afford.
If this is the case, it makes what happened to Jamie Bulger and his murderers obscene and indecent (and believe me there is a difference) and sadly, it does not appear that things are going to change any time soon.
Jamie’s father Ralph has finally broken his silence on his feelings about the whole thing. His book is on release and I can only hope that it provides some closure for the man and his ex-wife Denise. Hopefully the catharsis of writing this story will help him and anyone else in the predicament of seeing the criminals who’ve hurt their family living the proverbial “life of Riley.”
A big noise has been made by the government in this country about making prisons less enticing to criminals. But this is talking about the adult prisons. Juvenile prisons are governed by a different section of the Ministry of Justice and this section does not believe that juvenile offenders are anything more than misunderstood children.
Try telling that to Jamie Bulger’s family.
- “A great danger”: James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables should not be released from jail says toddler’s mum (mirror.co.uk)
- Fury over Jon Venables’ new plea to go free (thesun.co.uk)
- ‘I’ll do whatever it takes’ says mother of James Bulger over Jon Venables’ release plea (itv.com)
- James Bulger – the story narrated by his father (andrewazzopardi.org)
- Fury over Venables’ plea to go free | The SUN (andrewazzopardi.org)