Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Convicted Murderer Jon Venables Released From Prison, Again

A photo released by the court of Jon Venables prior to his 2001 release.

A photo released by the court of Jon Venables prior to his 2001 release.

Jon Venables convicted, with accomplice Robert Thompson, both 10 at the time, of the 1993 murder of James Bulger, 2, in Bootle, Merseyside, near Liverpool has been released from prison. Though Venables was sentenced to indefinite incarceration, after serving the minimum required eight years, the parole board decided in 2001 that he could be safely released. He would remain on probation for life.

Regarding life probation in the UK, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson explained, ”Their life license lasts for the rest of their lives, and they may be recalled to prison at any time for breaching their license conditions.” Though in Venables’ case it seems that authorities have exercised a great deal of latitude when deciding the seriousness of his parole violations.

The facts of his life between 2001 and 2010 are hazy, but it seems that during that time Venables violated several of the conditions of his parole: He returned to Merseyside, he was arrested on suspicion of brawling outside a bar in 2008, was found in possession of cocaine, and at least twice, possibly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, revealed his true identity to a friend.

In 2010 he was brought up on child porn charges and re-incarcerated. Having denied Venables parole on in 2011, the board ruled in July 2013, that he could again be safely released. His release is complicated by the fact that he is essentially in hiding.

James Bulger

James Bulger

The murder of James Bulger, who was lured out of a shopping mall and beaten to death with metal rods and bricks, so outraged the public that both killers have had to have their identities and their families protected.

Thompson seems to have done okay staying out of the public eye, but not Venables. Each time he revealed his true identity and each time he is released from prison it seems that he gets a new fake life. According to BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw, ”Venables has been given a new identity. This is believed to be the third or fourth fresh identity he has been given, but there’s been no confirmation of this.” This all at the taxpayers’ expense.

Though he has received counseling over the years, many, including the victim’s parents do not agree with the parole board’s decision to release Venables. Denise Fergus, James Bulger’s mother, reportedly believes that his is a ”danger to the public.” Bulger’s father, Ralph Bulger, said through his attorney, that he believes Venables could reoffend and that ”innocent people could suffer.”

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