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Killer Venables freed after risks branded 'trivial'

A psychiatric assessment of James Bulger killer Jon Venables compiled prior to his release said he posed only a "trivial" risk to the public, it was reported.

The account, seen by the Times newspaper, formed part of the legal case for Venables' release under a new identity.

Prepared in 2000, it states "the risks to the public are so trivial that, strictly in relation to that perspective, immediate release would be justified".

The document also revealed that Venables had "come to terms" with the killing of the toddler.

It reads: "The Jon Venables of today is a very different person to the Jon Venables aged 10. It has been a very important part of his rehabilitation so far that he has come to terms in a wholly realistic way with the awfulness of his behaviour eight years ago."

The judge who granted Venables' anonymity warned he could be murdered by vigilantes if his new identity is revealed.

Judge Elizabeth Butler-Sloss and Justice Secretary Jack Straw defended the need for secrecy amid growing public pressure and a direct appeal from the toddler's mother for more details about why Venables (27) was sent back to jail.

Denise Fergus appeared on This Morning to accuse the Government of treating the issue like a political football and of closing doors in her face.

Butler-Sloss, the former president of the High Court's family division who granted Venables anonymity on his release from prison, stressed "the enormous importance of protecting his anonymity now and if he is released because those who wanted to kill him in 2001 are likely to be out there now".

Mrs Fergus said the days after learning of Venables' return to jail had been a "massive rollercoaster".

She confirmed she found out about Venables' recall when officials visited her home in Kirkby, Merseyside.

She said: "I am sick of them closing doors in my face. It's about time they started telling me what I think I should know. As James's mother I have a right to know."

But speaking in the Commons, Mr Straw said releasing further information was "not in the interests of justice" because it could threaten the fairness of any future trial.

He also revealed that details of the alleged breach of licence conditions came to light after officials were told that Venables' new identity had been compromised.

According to reports, 27-year-old Venables, who was 10 when he and Robert Thompson carried out the brutal killing in Bootle, Merseyside, is being investigated by police over allegations he was looking at child pornography.

Mr Straw indicated there would be a major inquiry if Venables was charged with another serious crime.

Mrs Fergus is due to meet Mr Straw later this week.

Venables and Thompson were released on licence with new identities in 2001, having served eight years for the murder.