Jon Venables 'will make fresh freedom bid' after being re-jailed over child abuse images

23 February 2022, 23:43 | Updated: 24 February 2022, 00:54

Jon Venables is reportedly set to apply to be freed
Jon Venables is reportedly set to apply to be freed. Picture: Getty

By Daisy Stephens

Child killer Jon Venables is reportedly set to launch a fresh bid to be freed from prison, after he was re-jailed in 2017 following the discovery of over 1,000 images of child sex abuse on his laptop.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

The 39-year-old - who was just 10 years old when he kidnapped and murdered toddler James Bulger - was recalled to jail for the second time in 2017 after the images were discovered.

But now he may be handed a fresh opportunity to walk free, with The Sun reporting a formal application for parole could be handed to the Parole Board as early as April.

Read more: The Queen holds weekly call with PM as she continues to isolate with Covid-19

Read more: Fury as Bank of England boss admits he 'can't remember' his £575,000 salary

A source told the paper: "Venables spent three years in prison after his first recall before being freed.

"This time around he's already done four years.

"If he's complied with prison treatment programmes and continued to make progress, then he stands a strong chance of release.

"And if the Parole Board rules he's safe to go free, then only the Justice Secretary can prevent it."

James, 2, was murdered in 1993
James, 2, was murdered in 1993. Picture: Alamy

Venables, along with Robert Thompson, also 10, abducted two-year-old James from a shopping centre in Merseyside in 1993.

The pair tortured and killed the toddler and were both jailed.

Venables was released on licence after eight years and given lifelong anonymity in 2001.

Read more: Govt pays for 'ludicrous' study on benefits of reintroducing imperial units after Brexit

Read more: Masks off: TfL announces end of face coverings on Tube from Thursday

In 2010, Venables - under his new name - was jailed for having child abuse images on his laptop.

He was released three years later and given a second new identity - only to be sent back to prison in 2017 after more photographs were discovered.

An application to be freed was rejected by the Parole Board in September 2020 - but officials praised his "positive" behaviour and said he was learning "better ways of thinking".

Doreen Soulsby speaks to Shelagh Fogarty about Ling parole hearing

The Sun reports that officials have begun preparing for the parole case, which includes compiling psychiatrists' reports.

The file is expected to be sent to the Parole Board in April.

From there, the Board will decide if the case warrants a full oral hearing - something sources say will likely be required given Venables' notoriety and history of repeat offending.