Bulger killer charged over child pornography
Jon Venables, one of the two boys convicted of murdering the toddler James Bulger, has been charged with downloading 57 child pornography images, it was revealed yesterday.
Venables, who now has a new identity, is also charged with distributing seven of the images over the internet. The alleged offences can now be published after a judge lifted reporting restrictions yesterday.
Venables, who is currently in custody following his recall in February, will now appear at court via prison videolink on July 23, where he will enter pleas to the two charges.
The offences, brought under the 1978 Protection of Children Act, each carry a maximum of 10 years in prison. But due to the terms of Venables's life licence, it is possible that, if convicted, he could serve longer than that.
The 27-year-old Venables was convicted along with Robert Thompson of the 1993 murder of two-year-old James, who was led away from a shopping centre in Liverpool by the then 10-year-olds. His dead body was later found on a railway track.
The pair were released in 2001 and given new identities.
Venables was recalled earlier this year after breaching the terms of his release. Yesterday it was revealed that his alleged breach related to child pornography.
He is charged with "making" 57 indecent photographs of children between February 24, 2009 and February 23, 2010. It is further alleged that between February 1, 2010, and February 23, 2010, he distributed seven of the images.
It was explained that the "making" in this instance related to downloading from the internet, and that the "distribution" involved making the images available for other users to download, although it is unknown if anyone did so.
Speaking after the specifics of the charges had been revealed in court, Robert Makin, a solicitor on behalf of James's father, Ralph, said: "It is an enormous relief that the family of James Bulger are finally being told for the first time that the man who murdered James Bulger in 1993 has been charged with extremely serious sexual offences."
Mr Makin added that the paternal family had been frustrated in their attempts to receive support from the police, prosecutors and the Ministry of Justice following Venables's recall to prison. The solicitor said no one had given them any details about the case but that the issue had been raised with the new Lord Chancellor and the Attorney General, Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve.
James Bulger's mother, Denise Fergus, welcomed the decision. "It is right that the charges he faces should be made public," she said.
"My solicitor has also been in touch with the Ministry of Justice to make representations on my behalf, and to raise a number of concerns that I have about the way the case is going to be handled. (© Independent News Service)