I have a number of comments about Venerables and Thompson’s early release as teenagers after their brutal murder of little James Bulger. One reader wonders what they are doing now. I dug around for an update and found some limited information on both the men.
Venables and Thompson
In June 2001, after a six-month review, the parole board ruled the boys were no longer a threat to public safety and could be released.The terms of their release include the following: they are not allowed to contact each other or Bulger’s family; they are prohibited from visiting the Merseyside region, the location of the crime. If they breached a number of rules, or were deemed a risk to the public, they would be returned to prison. Both men were given new identities and moved to secret locations under a “witness protection“-style action.This was supported by the fabrication of passports, national insurance numbers, qualification certificates and medical records. In a psychiatric report prepared in 2000 before Venables’s release, he was described as posing a “trivial” risk to the public and unlikely to reoffend. The chances of his successful rehabilitation were described as “very high.” Both boys, however, were reported to suffer post traumatic stress disorder, and Venables in particular told of experiencing nightmares and flashbacks to the murder.
The boys received education and rehabilitation while institutionalized. Despite initial problems, Venables was said to have eventually made good progress at an institution known as Red Bank, resulting in him being kept there for the full eight years of his incarceration. Thompson was incarcerated for eight years at Barton Moss, an institution that housed both boys and girls. He was considered to be well-behaved and intelligent, and to have coped well with his situation, however he never showed any remorse or interest in his crime. A social worker at Barton Moss described Thompson’s treatment as being that of “kid gloves.” He continued to suck his thumb until he was 14. He also became adept at ‘burning’ music CDs which he would sell to staff and other children for £1 each. Once, he was involved in a confrontation with another youth and afterward he stood in the lounge area. It was bedtime, but he wouldn’t go to his room. The social worker suggested he be made to go to bed or to lose TV privileges, but the staff refused. “It was a good 40 minutes before he eventually went to his room. It was ridiculous.”
When other inmates went to bed, Thompson was permitted to stay up for a further 20 minutes watching television. He was close to the manager at the unit and they’d sit drinking tea, talking and laughing together. By the age of 14, Thompson was taken on outings to the theatre, and shopping centres, where he could spend some of the £60-per-month allowance he received. At the age of 16, he had a girlfriend, a fellow inmate and pretty redhead, who served time in the unit for one year. Staff was unaware if the relationship became sexual, but they would kiss and cuddle during ‘recreation’ time before being separated. The girl was in for theft but had a long history of crime and a very troubled childhood. She was there for about a year before being released.’
In spite of his girlfriend, when Thompson was released at the age of 23, he moved in with his gay lover. The child killer has received huge financial support from taxpayers through the Home Office and Probation Service since his release. He is allowed to claim benefits to stop him turning to crime when he is not employed.
By far Jon Venables appears to be the most perverse between the two. 17 years after little James’ murder, Venerables was back in the headlines for committing criminal acts. Venables began living independently in March 2002. Some time thereafter, he began a relationship with a woman who had a 5-year-old child. It is not known whether Venables had already begun downloading child pornography at the time of dating the woman, though he denies having ever met the child. In 2005, when Venables was in his mid-20s, his probation officer met another girlfriend of his, who was aged 17. After a number of “young girlfriends” it was presumed that Venables was having a delayed adolescence. On 21 June 2010, Venables was charged with possession and distribution of indecent images of children. It was alleged that he had downloaded 57 indecent images of children over a 12-month period to February 2010, and allowed other people to access the files through a peer-to-peer network. On 23 July 2010, Venables pleaded guilty to charges of downloading and distributing child pornography, and was given a sentence of two years’ imprisonment.
At the court hearing, it emerged that Venables had posed in online chat rooms as 35-year-old Dawn “Dawnie” Smith, a married woman from Liverpool who boasted about abusing her 8-year-old daughter, in the hope of obtaining further child pornography. Venables contacted his probation officer in February 2010, fearing that his new identity had been compromised at his place of work. When the officer arrived at his flat, Venables was attempting to remove or destroy the hard drive of his computer with a knife and a tin opener.The officer’s suspicions were aroused, and the computer was taken away for examination leading to the discovery of the child pornography, which included children as young as two being raped by adults and penetrative sex with seven- or eight-year-olds. Venables continually revealed his hidden identity to the community for unknown reasons. Perhaps he was boasting over his notoriety? On 2 March 2010, Venables was returned to prison for an unspecified violation of the terms of his licence of release. Venables had been returned to prison because of “extremely serious allegations“, those of child pornography.
In April 2010, a 19-year-old man from the Isle of Man was given a three-month suspended prison sentence for claiming in a Facebook message that one of his former work colleagues was Robert Thompson. In passing sentence, Deputy High Bailiff Alastair Montgomery said that the teenager had “put that person at significant risk of serious harm” and in a “perilous position” by making the allegation. In March 2012, a 26-year-old man from Chorley, Lancashire, was arrested after allegedly setting up a Facebook group with the title “What happened to Jamie Bulger was f**king hilarious.” The man’s computer was seized for further investigations. There are many images circulating online claiming to be of Venables or Thompson; potentially innocent individuals may be placed in danger. On 26 April 2013, (yesterday as of the writing of this blog), two men received suspended jail sentences of nine months after admitting to contempt of court, by publishing photographs which they claimed to be of Venables and Thompson on Facebook and Twitter. The posts were seen by 24,000 people.
A Ramsbottom father, 36, committed suicide after months of verbal abuse by his community after he was falsely identified as Robert Thompson. Scott Bradley left a note in which he claimed “they called me all sorts- a paedophile, a follower of young girls, walking around bullying old people. The list is endless.”
So, it would seem, is the damage incurred by James Bulger’s murder.