AT just ten years old, Jon Venables callously abducted and murdered James Bulger, 2, in 1993 in a case that sent shockwaves through the UK and the rest of the world.
The twisted child killer, now aged 39, took the youngster from a shopping centre along with friend Robert Thompson, before the baby's dead body by a railway track.
Who is Jon Venables?
Jon Venables was born on August 13, 1982.
He was just ten years old when he abducted two-year-old James Bulger from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, with his friend Robert Thompson.
The pair tortured and murdered James, whose body was found by a railway line.
Venables and Thompson were found guilty of Bulger's abduction and murder on November 24, 1993 – making them the youngest people to be jailed for murder in 250 years.
Was Jon Venables given a new identity after the murder?
At 18 years old, Venables and Thompson were both released from a young offenders’ institution under licence in June 2001.
After intensive rehabilitation, the pair were handed new identities.
Venables' new identity has been changed twice after he told friends he was a convicted murderer.
His current new identity came under threat in February 2018 after James Bulger's dad Ralph launched High Court proceedings against the order that allows him to live anonymously.
The lawyer, representing Ralph and his brother Jimmy, told a court on May 2 that the original injunction granted to Venables was on the basis that he was rehabilitated and did not re-offend.
But Denise Fergus, James's mum, does not support the proceedings and said her son's killer should keep his anonymity to avoid vigilante justice.
On March 4, 2019, it was announced Venables is to keep his anonymity after a judge ruled it would protect him from "serious violence".
In their bid to have Venables' identity disclosed, lawyers for Ralph and Jimmy Bulger argued certain details about the killer and his life are "common knowledge" and easily accessible online.
But the President of the Family Division Sir Andrew McFarlane rejected the bid, saying it was in place to protect Venables from being "put to death".
"My decision is in no way a reflection on the applicants themselves, for whom there is a profoundest sympathy," he said.
"The reality is that the case for varying the injunction has simply not been made."
He added: "As Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss held, (Venables) is 'uniquely notorious' and there is a strong possibility, if not a probability, that if his identity were known he would be pursued resulting in grave and possibly fatal consequences.
"This is, therefore, a wholly exceptional case and the evidence in 2019 is more than sufficient to sustain the conclusion that there continues to be a real risk of very substantial harm to (Venables)."
Where is Jon Venables now?
Venables was given a SECOND new identity following his release from prison in 2013.
But he found himself back in a maximum category A jail, which we cannot identify for legal reasons, after being caught with vile child abuse images following a top-secret police operation.
- February 12, 1993 James Bulger is taken from shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside.
- February 14 His battered body is found by railway line.
- February 18 Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, then aged ten, are arrested.
- November 24 Venables and Thompson, now 11, are convicted of abduction and murder and detained indefinitely.
- 1993-2001 Venables is held in the eight-bed Red Bank secure unit in St Helens, Merseyside, while Thompson is held at Barton Moss, outside Manchester. Reports later claim Venables had sex with a female member of staff at Red Bank, who was accused of sexual misconduct and suspended. She allegedly never returned to work there. Reports also claimed Venables was told to tell other residents he was detained for stealing cars, not for murder.
- January 2001 Killers win unprecedented lifelong anonymity amid most draconian banning orders on their whereabouts ever
- June 2001 They are freed under new identities
- September 2008 Venables was arrested on suspicion of affray after a drunken brawl and was given a formal warning by the probation service. He was given a caution for possession of cocaine after he was found with a small amount of the class A drug later that year.
- February 24, 2010 Venables back in jail after breaching life licence by hoarding child abuse images
- July 2010 Venables sentenced to two years after admitting downloading and distributing indecent images of children
- August 2013 Venables freed from prison after Parole Board recommends his release
- November 2017 Venables recalled to prison after allegedly being caught with indecent images of children again
- January 2018 Venables charged by CPS over indecent images
- February 7, 2018 Venables jailed for 40 months after he admits to possessing more than 1,000 indecent images of children
Since being freed, Venables alone is thought to have cost the public around £5million.
He could now be kept in prison for the rest of his life if the board decides he poses too much of a risk to ever be freed again.
In January 2018, James Bulger's mum Denise Fergus backed calls for a public inquiry into the toddler's murder.
What's happened to Jon Venables since he was jailed?
- February 7, 2018 Venables admits to owning a sick paedophile manual which instructed him on "how to have sex with little girls" at the Old Bailey.
- February 18, 2018 The Daily Star report that Venables had been "attacked in prison with boiling water after an inmate discovered his identity".
- March 2018 It was revealed that the killer is begging for plastic surgery at the taxpayers' expense after photos allegedly identifying him were leaked online.
- May 2018 James Bulger's dad Ralph reveals he has launched High Court proceedings against the order that allows him to live under a cloak on anonymity.
- September 29, 2020 Jon Venables is denied parole and told he will remain in prison for at least another two years before he can apply for parole again.
more on the murder of james bulger
Is Jon Venables dead? Rumours of James Bulger's killer's death sweep internet
Who is James Bulger’s mum Denise Fergus?
Where is Robert Thompson now?
‘Evil’ Robert Thompson cried but shed ‘no tears’ after murdering James Bulger
What is lifelong anonymity?
Under current legislation, child suspects are granted automatic anonymity in the youth courts and are routinely granted the same if they appear at crown court aside from exceptional circumstances.
But once a child turns 18, their name can be reported.
Lifelong anonymity is put in place by courts rarely and is usually in only the most infamous and horrific cases.
Adult criminals have also been given new identities over fears of a vigilante attack.
There are currently six infamous Brit criminals whose crimes are so notorious they have been given lifetime anonymity.
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