Wednesday 13 December 2017

Killer's supervision to be probed

British government orders inquiry into how probation service handled Jon Venables' release

Tim Castle

The British government said yesterday it had ordered a review into how probation officers and other agencies supervised one of the two killers of toddler James Bulger after his release from custody in 2001.

Jon Venables, 27, was jailed for two years last week after he admitted charges of downloading and distributing indecent images of children.

He had appeared at London's Old Bailey court by video link from prison, where he had been recalled in March after breaching his licence conditions

Venables and another boy killed 2-year-old Bulger in 1993, when they were 10 years old. They abducted him from a shopping centre in Liverpool before torturing and killing him.

The two boys were given life sentences but were released on licence in 2001 after being given new identities.

Some 57 pornographic pictures of children were found on Venables' computer after he alerted his probation officer when he feared his new identity was in danger of being revealed. His lawyer said that the child-pornography offences were committed at a time when Venables was drinking heavily.

Former senior civil servant David Omand will conduct a three-month review into the supervision of Venables after his release, Britain's Ministry of Justice said.

Bulger's mother, Denise Fergus, said last week that she was surprised that Venables had not been recalled to prison sooner.

The court heard that in 2008 the probation service had given Venables a formal warning after he was arrested following a drunken fight.

In the same year he was cautioned for possession of cocaine.

Probation Chiefs Association director Diane Fulbrook said the 2008 offences had been relatively minor.

"Here we had a young man, who'd held down a job for nine years, he was in settled accommodation. . . some of his behaviour around drugs and alcohol [is] not uncommon amongst young people," she told BBC radio.

Bulger's murder shocked Britain and was widely reported around the world.

A security camera picture showing the killers leading the toddler away from the Bootle shopping centre became the haunting image of the case.

Sunday Independent

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