Sunday 17 December 2017

James Bulger killer Jon Venables 'accused of serious sex offence'

Jon Venables, 10 years of age in 1993 Photo: Getty Images
Jon Venables, 10 years of age in 1993 Photo: Getty Images
Robert Thompson age 10 in 1993 Photo: Getty Images
James Bulger Photo: Getty Images

Alastair Jamieson

Jon Venables, the killer of James Bulger's killer, was recalled to prison because of "extremely serious allegations", according to Jack Straw, the British Justice Secretary.

The 27-year-old was returned to prison on Tuesday, nine years after he was released on licence with a new identity after serving eight years for the murder of the toddler on Merseyside in 1993.

A report in The Sun claims Venables is alleged to have committed a sexual offence, in contrast to earlier claims of a fight at work.

Ministers have not said exactly why he was returned to jail, but reports have claimed he has enjoyed nights out in Liverpool under his new identity.

Mr Straw said the recall to custody involved some "extremely serious allegations" as he prepared to meet the dead boy's mother, Denise Fergus.

Venables and Thompson were aged 10 when they abducted James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseryside and killed him on a railway line, on February 13, 1993. They became Britain's youngest murderers.

In a statement issued by the UK Ministry of Justice, Mr Straw said: "I was unable to give further details of the reasons for Jon Venables' return to custody, because it was not in the public interest to do so.

"Our motivation throughout has been solely to ensure that some extremely serious allegations are properly investigated and that justice is done."

Mrs Fergus, who will not be told why Venables is back in jail, told the Daily Mail she was angry and accused authorities of breaking a promise to keep her informed.

She told the paper: "Why can't the government be honest and tell us what he's done? It's wrong - as James's mother, I have a right to know."

She said she was denied information about Venables' case during a meeting with a Probation Service officer.

"I threw question after question at her, but she blocked every one," she told the newspaper.

Venables has reportedly made several trips to the city where he murdered the toddler since being released, despite a ban on him doing so as a condition of his release in 2001.

He is said to have visited nightclubs and a pop concert in Liverpool and even watched Premier League side Everton at Goodison Park.

The killer is also reported to have worked as a nightclub bouncer.

There are fears that his recall could see his new identity being discovered because of fellow prisoners' suspicions about special treatment.

Bugler's body was found by children playing on a freight railway line 200 yards from Walton Lane police station, Liverpool, and more than two miles from the Strand shopping centre.

Days later Venables and Thompson were arrested in connection with the murder of James, and later charged. They were the youngest to be charged with murder in the 20th century.

In November that year, they were convicted following a 17-day trial at Preston Crown Court and ordered to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure, the normal substitute sentence for life imprisonment when the offender is a juvenile.

Details have also emerged of Venables' trips to the seaside during his period of detention.

A former member of staff at the Fylde Farm School at Poulton le Fylde, Lancashire, which used to be an "approved school" for young offenders, said Venables was taken to Blackpool Pleasure Beach along with other teenagers.

The former worker claims Venables was able to study for GCSEs and enjoy illicit alcohol in the farm grounds.

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