Daily Express

James Bulger killer Jon Venables loses bid to gain freedom

- By Chris Riches

JAMES Bulger’s murderer Jon Venables must stay behind bars after losing his latest plea for parole.

A Parole Board panel has ruled the 41-year-old paedophile still poses a danger to the public as it rejected his claims that he was “completely rehabilita­ted”.

Venables and Robert Thompson were jailed for life for torturing and killing two-year-old James after snatching him in Bootle, Merseyside when they were just 10 in 1993.

The pair were released on licence with new identities in 2001, but Venables was returned to jail in 2010 and again in 2017 for possessing indecent images of children.

He previously tried for parole in 2020, and before his latest bid was rejected yesterday James’s mum Denise Fergus said the idea of him going free terrified her.

Welcoming yesterday’s decision, Denise, 54, hailed it a “day to celebrate”.

Her spokeswoma­n Kym Morris – chair of the James Bulger Memorial Trust – said: “The prospect of him coming out was terrifying as we knew he’d harm again. We thank the Parole Board for making the correct decision.” Venables had been granted a private parole hearing after it was ruled it would “harm his mental health” if it took place in public, and also to protect his new identity. However, he did not attend in person. The closed hearing was told he claimed to be “reformed” and “no danger” to the public. But yesterday the Parole Board said: “We can confirm a panel of the Parole Board refused the release of Jon Venables following a hearing. Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.” Venables “will be eligible for a further review in due course”, the board said.

James’s family had submitted evidence that they felt Venables was “a danger to the public and to children, and he needs to be kept locked up”.

In her statement, Denise wrote: “He killed my son James, has re-offended time and time again and I have no doubt he would kill another child if he is released. He has clearly got evil still in him.”

Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, Alex Chalk, backed yesterday’s decision to keepVenabl­es caged.

He said: “Public protection is our priority which is why I opposed Jon Venables’ release.

“This Government is reforming the parole system to introduce a stronger ministeria­l check on the release of the most dangerous offenders.”

 ?? ?? Victim’s mum... Denise Fergus
Victim’s mum... Denise Fergus
 ?? ?? Staying behind bars...Jon Venables
Staying behind bars...Jon Venables

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