James Bulger's family 'terrified' as toddler killer Jon Venables could be released before Christmas due to parole delay

28 November 2023, 15:05 | Updated: 28 November 2023, 15:18

If he is released, Venables will still be protected by a life-long anonymity order and will live under a new identity.
If he is released, Venables will still be protected by a life-long anonymity order and will live under a new identity. Picture: Getty/Alamy
Jasmine Moody

By Jasmine Moody

Jon Venables, convicted of murdering two-year-old James Bulger, could be released before Christmas as his parole decision faces a delay.

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Venables, who was ten at the time, murdered James Bulger with Robert Thompson in 1993.

The toddler killer, 41, had a private hearing which started on 14 November and ended the same week.

A result was expected ten to 14 days later but now parole bosses plan to reveal their verdict on whether he can be released in mid-December.

This decision has now sparked concern that Venables could be freed during the festive period.

Read more: James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables granted private parole hearing and could be freed by Christmas

Read more: James Bulger killer Jon Venables 'fails to attend parole hearing' despite it being held in private for his mental health

The decision is now expected to be announced by 15 December.

Venables (pictured) and Thompson were both ten years old when they snatched two-year-old James.
Venables (pictured) and Thompson were both ten years old when they snatched two-year-old James. Picture: Getty

James' family are "terrified of what this means", a source told The Sun on Monday.

The source continued: "It is really irregular to take so long and they are worried Venables could be sneaked out when it is quiet before Christmas and parliament is not sitting.

"Normally his release would spark questions in the Commons but that wouldn’t happen if he comes out just before Christmas.

"The whole thing seems to have been skewed in his favour – including having the private hearing – and now they are taking ages to reach a decision.

"It is worrying and very irregular, with the family being largely kept in the dark."

Parliament breaks for Christmas on 19 December, returning on 8 January.

Venables did not appear at his parole hearing, even though it was private to protect his mental health, according to The Sun.

Read more: Jon Venables should not be released, writes Shelagh Fogarty

The toddler killer, whose identity has been disguised, avoided cross-examination and hearing the impact statements of James' parents, Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger.

Mr Bulger has warned his son's killer will murder again is released and branded the delay as "twisted".

On Monday evening, a spokeswoman for Ms Fergus told The Sun: "We’ve been made aware that the parole decision, initially expected this week, will now be made in another two weeks.

"While this news is frustrating for Denise and her family, we understand and appreciate the importance of adhering to procedural requirements in such matters.

"Denise and her family are grappling with heightened emotions and uncertainty.

"It is our sincere hope that, despite the delay, the parole board will carefully consider all relevant factors and make the decision that ensures the safety of the public, well-being of Denise and her loved ones- by not granting Jon Venables parole."

"Denise and her family are grappling with heightened emotions and uncertainty", according to a spokeswoman.
"Denise and her family are grappling with heightened emotions and uncertainty", according to a spokeswoman. Picture: Alamy

Venables and Thompson were both ten years old when they snatched two-year-old James are were jailed in November 1993 for the toddler's murder.

They tortured and killed the two-year-old after taking him from a shopping centre in Merseyside.

Venables was jailed for eight years before being released on strict licence.

He was sent back to prison in 2010 and 2017 for possessing indecent images of children and was given a 40-month sentence.

Thompson has not re-offended since being released on licence when he was 18.

If he is released, Venables will still be protected by a life-long anonymity order and will live under a new identity.

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