Paedophile images charge for killer of James Bulger


ONE OF the two killers of Liverpool two-year-old Jamie Bulger, Jon Venables, who has been living under a new identity since his release from secure custody in 2001, has been charged with downloading dozens of paedophile photographs and distributing seven indecent images of children, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

His trial is now expected to take place later this year, but severe reporting restrictions will be imposed by the courts to ensure that nothing emerges to reveal the identity of Venables, who is now 27. He was taken to prison in February for breaching the terms of his licence following a raid on his home by social workers and police. He will appear by video-link at a court hearing on July 23rd, where he will have to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Speaking outside court after yesterday’s court hearing, Robin Makin, the solicitor for James Bulger’s father, Ralph, sharply criticised the ministry of justice for its handling of the case since Venables’s recall.

“We consider that the way this has been handled since news of Jon Venables being recalled to custody has been a disaster. The public authorities ought to behave quite differently and in due course further details are likely to emerge of the mistakes that were made. Ineptitude and incompetence spring to mind,” he said.

In a statement, the toddler’s father and uncle, Jimmy, said they had heard of the charges facing Venables with “enormous relief”, though they complained that they had received “no useful support” from the authorities since reports about Venables’s alleged conduct first emerged.

“Great anguish and distress has been suffered by Ralph and Jimmy, who had the responsibility of identifying James’s mutilated and tortured body all those years ago,” the statement read.

A Crown Court injunction was enforced on May 21st banning any media reporting of the charges, but this was lifted yesterday following an application by a number of media organisations.

Following his recall to custody, the then justice secretary, Jack Straw, initially refused to offer any detail about the charges that Venables was likely to face on the grounds that it would prejudice a prosecution.

Venables and his friend Robert Thompson, who is now also living under a new identity, were jailed for life for the 1993 killing, when, as 10-year-olds, they took two-year-old James from a shopping centre in Bootle, near Liverpool. His badly mutilated body was later found two miles away on a disused railway line.