In February of 1993, a little boy named James Bulger from the town of Kirkby in the county of Merseyside, England was found dead after being tortured, abducted, and murdered. The killers were two 10-year-old boys, one of whom was Jon Venables.
The two killers, Venables and Robert Thompson, were charged with the death of the little boy in February of 1993. They ended up serving eight-year sentences. They were released in 2001, having been given new identities, and they were actually guaranteed anonymity for the duration of their lives.
Now Venables, who is in his 30’s, has recently been charged with criminal offenses related to indecent images of children. Back in November, he ended up in prison as a result.
Venables’ attorney is upset with the criminal justice system because he believes that Venables’ identity was revealed on social media — which is technically a crime punishable by 2 years in prison. The men who posted images that they believed to be depictions of Venables and Thompson actually got in serious trouble with the law.
It isn’t the first time since his release that Venables — or whatever name he’s going by now — has been in trouble for crimes related to children. In 2010, Venables plead guilty and was therefore sent to jail for the downloading and distribution of child porn. He also got into trouble with the law in 2008 as a result of a drunken brawl. For that, he got a formal warning.
He also got in trouble later that year for possessing a small amount of cocaine.
Venables’ trial will be held in private due to the anonymity granted to him back when he was released from prison well over a decade ago. For obvious reasons, people aren’t terribly pleased.
Naturally, as a result of his recent arrest, many are calling for Venables’ anonymity to be stripped. After all, once upon a time, he did kill a very small child.
One of those calling for Venables’ anonymity to be stripped is Ralph Bulger, the father of the little boy who Venables killed. When Venables murdered his son James, Venables looked like an innocent child. As Ralph put it, people should see “the monster” that he truly is, not the innocent-looking child he was at the time. James Bulger’s mother referred to Venables as “vile” and “perverted”.
The murder of James Bulger was indeed particularly horrifying. The young boy was actually laid across train tracks by his killers, resulting in a train cutting his tiny body in half. If there’s good news, it is that James was probably dead before the train hit him and cut his body in two. His body wasn’t found until he had been dead for two days.
It is also possible and maybe likely considering the recent charges against Venables, that there was a sexual element to the murder of James Bulger; the underpants, socks, trousers, and shoes of the two-year-old victim had been removed.
There’s no obvious reason why Venables and Thompson targeted James Bulger; they had, however, been spotted observing children on the day of the murder.
Thompson was described by a person involved in the trial as one of the “most frightening” children that he had ever seen.
Anonymity was granted to Thompson and Venables upon their release from custody because there was a legitimate concern that their lives could be in danger as a result of what they did. Their crime was not forgotten, however, and even a foreign magazine allegedly had plans to reveal their new identities back in April of 2007.
It is worth noting, in defense of the magazine, that Venables had been known to reveal his true identity to his friends on more than one occasion.
In 2011, he was given yet another identity.
That said, the fact that Venables is once again in trouble with the law over child-related crimes raises the question of whether or not a person capable of violence against the most vulnerable of people can ever truly be rehabilitated. Did Venables actually deserve a new identity?
Popular culture has not ignored the Bulger case, even though it occurred almost 25 years ago. Most recently, a book called On Evil was released by the author Terry Eagleton. Footage from the abduction was also used in order to promote the Australian television program City Homicide.
H/T – Source