Friday 17 November 2017

Bulger killer should face new charges, says mum

THE mother of James Bulger has demanded that her son's killer face justice after it emerged that he may escape charges over alleged possession of child pornography.

Denise Fergus said that the apparent breach of licence by Jon Venables should not be "swept under the carpet" and that any crime he was suspected of committing should be the subject of a trial.

She spoke after it was claimed that Venables may not face court because of concerns that he could not have a fair trial and that he would have to be granted another new identity at a cost of more than £250,000.

Mrs Fergus, who has already called upon Jack Straw, Britian's Justice Secretary, to make public the details of Venables' recall to prison, said yesterday that justice had "to be seen to be done".

A spokesman acting on her behalf said: "She has been concerned from the outset that there may be attempts to sweep this under the carpet and have it dealt with by the Parole Board in secret.

"The justice secretary has spoken of Venables being suspected of a 'very serious offence' and if there is evidence of that, he should be brought before a court.

"They should not make any special exception on the grounds of cost or protecting his anonymity.



Pornography

Venables has been recalled to prison, reportedly over allegations of possessing high-level category four child pornography.

Lawyers for the Crown Prosecution Service will decide whether he should be charged under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail.

A source said: "There are concerns for the defence and prosecution lawyers over whether a fair and impartial trial could be guaranteed due to the publicity surrounding the issue and the fact that James's parents have said they would want to sit in court." Another source added: "If he is charged and appears in court the details of the new offence would come out and it would cost thousands to give him a new identity.

"This is something that justice officials are desperate to avoid." The sources suggested that Venables's alleged offence could be "left on file".

The fate of the 27-year-old would then be in the hands of the Parole Board.

If it is agreed that he breached his licence and presents a risk to the public, he will be kept in jail without trial.

There were also claims that Venables repeatedly breached his parole by taking drugs and ignoring a ban on visiting Liverpool, where he and Robert Thompson murdered two-year-old James in 1993. Parole Board officials will meet this week to decide whether procedures were correctly upheld when Venables was recalled to prison on February 22.

Whitehall sources said that no charges had been brought but added that the claim that Venables would escape prosecution was "speculation".

Meanwhile, Baroness Butler-Sloss, the judge who gave lifelong anonymity to James Bulger's killers, has said that the public should be "more merciful" to child criminals. She called for a "change in culture" towards how 10 and 11 year olds were treated to make it "much more difficult" to send them to prison.

Irish Independent

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