Photograph: PA

Parole Hearing Looms for Child Murderer Jon Venables in James Bulger Case

Jon Venables, one of the killers responsible for the tragic murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993, is set to undergo a fresh parole hearing in November as he seeks release from prison.

Venables, along with his schoolmate Robert Thompson, committed the heinous crime when they were just 10 years old, abducting James Bulger from his mother’s side in a shopping center in Merseyside as reported by The Guardian on Wednesday, September 20, 2023.

Now aged 41, Venables has been incarcerated since 2017 after being convicted for the second time of possessing child abuse images.

A spokesperson for the Parole Board explained, “An oral hearing has been listed for the parole review of Jon Venables and is scheduled to take place in November 2023. Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.”

“The prisoner and witnesses are then questioned at length during the hearing, which often lasts a full day or more. Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”

The upcoming parole hearing is slated for November 14 and 15. Venables and Thompson hold the unfortunate distinction of being the youngest individuals to stand trial for murder in the UK. Both have been granted new identities, but only Thompson has remained out of custody since their release in 2001.

In 2017, Venables was convicted for the second time of possessing child abuse images when he was discovered with a “pedophile manual” and over 1,100 unlawful photos or videos, including content showing the sexual abuse of male toddlers.

Venables applied for a parole hearing in 2020, which was subsequently denied. Earlier this year, on the 30th anniversary of James Bulger’s murder, Ralph Bulger’s solicitor expressed his deep concern about the potential release of Jon Venables.

Robin Makin, the solicitor representing James Bulger’s father, Ralph Bulger, said, “We are really concerned. As far as Ralph and Jimmy are concerned, he is a real danger.”

Makin, who has represented Ralph since his divorce from James’s mother, Denise Fergus, shortly after the murder, added that Ralph Bulger had been “completely let down” by the Ministry of Justice.

The approaching parole hearing has reignited debates surrounding Venables’ potential release and the continued impact of James Bulger’s tragic death on his family.

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