On 24 November 1993 Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, aged 10, became the youngest convicted murderers in English history. On 12 February 1993 evidence from the New Strand Shopping Centre showed Thompson and Venables taking James Bulger out of the mall. The boys took James to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, led him to a railway line near the Walton & Anfield railway station, and tortured him.The boys were charged with James’ murder on 20 February 1993, and were remanded in custody to await trial. During his confession, when the issue of sexual assault came up, Jon walked over to his father and cried “me dad thinks I know and I don’t.” Robert once said, “If I wanted to kill a baby, I’d kill my own, wouldn’t I?” On 24 November 1993 the boys, by then 11, were found guilty of James’ murder. Their names, backgrounds and identities were released. Watch Unforgiven: the boys who murdered James Bulger
In June 2001 the parole board ruled the boys were no longer a threat to public safety and they were released. Both 20-year-old men were given new identities under a “witness protection” action that included the fabrication of passports, national insurance numbers and medical records. On 2 March 2010, Jon returned to prison on suspected child pornography charges. Watch Jon Venables: what went wrong.
Jon was born August 13, 1982, to Susan and Neil Venables. At school, teachers noticed Jon’s strange behavior: he rocked back and forth in his chair, made odd noises, threw himself on the floor, and tore at his own clothing. He tore down the artwork of other students, stood on his desk and threw things at classmates. Susan had a “strict and disciplined” background and wielded extreme control over Jon. A deadly influence on Jon came through Neil’s rented movies; they were not brutal but there was a great deal of violence and horror. On January 18, 1993 Neil rented, “Child’s Play 3”. In “Child’s Play 3,” the soul of a serial killer inhabits a doll named “Chucky”, slaughters victims, and is killed in a haunted train ride. There is no proof that Jon saw the film, but there are coincidences. After Jon was transferred to a new school due to his erratic behaviour he met Robert Thompson. Watch James Bulger – eyes of the detective – 2/7
Robert was the tough one. He lived in a brutal environment and was assaulted by his five older brothers and alcoholic mother. At the age of 18, Ann married Robert Thompson Sr., 18, to escape severe beatings from her father, but Ann’s husband beat her in front of the boys. In turn she pummeled her sons with sticks and belts. Robert’s father eventually abandoned the family. The six brothers beat one another: the oldest beat the younger, and the vulnerable beat the youngest. The murder confession revealed that Jon was responsible for the worst violence against James, but Rob was no bystander. Robert might have committed the sexual assault since he may have been an older brother’s sex abuse victim. During the interrogation, he became flustered, and worried that Jon would tell police Robert played with James’s privates. He cried that people would think he was a “pervert.”