Friday 12th February 1993. Denise, James Bugler's mother, went with her brother's girlfriend Nicola to the Bootle Strand Shopping Centre and took James with her. At 2:30 they went to the two-story shopping centre. Nicola had to exchange some clothes at TJ Hughes, Denise waited nearby, watching the children. For a moment James disappeared from sight. He was getting agitated, and made a fuss if he had to get in the pushchair. James then wandered off, but soon cried out, frightened when he suddenly fond himself alone. Denise picked him up and they left TJ Hughes. She bought the children a snack, hoping to quiet James down. But the two year old was full of energy. At a clothing shop he threw around clothes and in another shop grabbed some sweets and juice before Denise could stop him. At the butcher's shop, Denise went in, leaving James by the door. Since there wasn't a queue, she thought James would be okay for a minute on his own. The butcher messed up her order, keeping Denise a little longer than she expected. Nicola, her companion, had just seen James playing with a cigarette butt by the door. When the young mother left the shop to scoop up her child, he was gone. She ran back inside, flustered. 'I was only in the shop a few seconds. I turned round and he'd gone,' she cried.
That same morning, Jon Venables left his Liverpool home for school. He had a note from his mother, requesting that he be allowed to take the class gerbils home, where he could care for them over the upcoming school holidays. But down the road, Jon dumped his school bag in his favourite hiding place. He saw Robert Thompson, who was hanging out with his little brother. Both were 'Bunking', playing Truant. Jon and Robert hated school. Both had been kept back a year, a common denominator of shame. They became expert truants. That Friday, they walked to the Bootle Strand. As they strolled through the centre, looking in the shops, sales people watched them closely. Their school uniforms signalling their truancy.
Jon and Robert came to the shopping centre to steal. It didn't matter what.. They stole batteries, enamel paint, pens and pencils, a troll doll (Robert collected trolls), some fruit and sweets, makeup, and other bits and pieces. They stole a wind-up toy soldier, played with it on the escalator, then threw it down the moving steps. They discarded much of what they took. Stealing was the fun part. Everywhere they went Jon and Robert were told to leave. They kicked a can of enamel paint until it started to leak. They teased an elderly woman, poking her in the back, then running off. They climbed all over the chairs at a McDonald's until they were chased out. Shop assistants asked them, why aren't you in school? They lied and said it was a holiday.
Whose idea was it to lure a child? In custody, Robert claimed Jon said, 'Let's get a kid, I haven't hit one for ages'. But Jon blamed Robert. 'Let's get this kid lost,' he quoted Robert as saying, 'let's get him lost outside so when he goes into the road he'll get knocked over'. Perhaps both are telling the truth. Neither would chicken out or back down once the challenge 'let's get a kid' was made. By stealing a baby, it seems, they were proving to each other that they were not babies themselves.
In the department store TJ Hughes, a woman noticed her three-year-old daughter and two-year-old son were playing with a couple of older boys. The boys, Jon and Robert, were kneeling down, opening purses and snapping them shut, attracting the kids’ attention. She called them back, but they strayed off again. After she paid for her item, she found her daughter and asked her where her baby brother was. 'Gone outside with the boys,' she said. The mother raced outside and yelled her child's name. She saw Jon and Robert, motioning to her son to come along. He had already followed them this far. But when Jon saw her, they froze. 'Go back to your mum,' they said, and the two boys quickly disappeared.
Later, Jon and Robert went to a sweet shop near the butcher's shop, hoping to steal some sweets, but the shop was closed. As they stood there for a moment, wondering what to do next, Jon spotted a little boy in a blue anorak by the butcher’s door. He was eating Smarties. 'Come on, baby,' said Jon. James followed and Jon took him by the hand. As they walked through the Strand, a few women noticed the threesome. Sometimes James ran ahead. The older boys were calling to him: 'Come on, baby.' Together, they left the shopping centre. The video camera captured them as they left at 3:42pm.
Denise was in a panic. She was directed to the security office, where she described her son. He was wearing a blue anorak and grey sweat suit. His tee-shirt had the word 'Noddy' printed on it, and his blue wool scarf had a white cat face. Security wasn't alarmed -- it was routine to announce the names and descriptions of lost children over the loudspeakers. But no one responded. Denise and Nicola searched the shops and again called the security officers -- still no James. At 4:15pm. they called the local Police Station to report a missing child.
Jon and Robert left the Liverpool shopping centre and walked up Stanley Road. They carried the toddler, who was crying. They set him down near the post office and said loudly, “Are you all right? You were told not to run.” James cried for his mother, but the boys continued on, ignoring him. Jon held the boy’s hand as they walked. Sometimes he ran ahead, other times he fell behind. They walked down to the canal and under a bridge to an isolated area. Jon and Robert joked about pushing James into the water. It was at the canal that they first hurt James. One of them (each blamed the other) picked James up and dropped him on his head. If they were serious about wanting to murder a baby, why not here and now? They had their opportunity and had made their first assault on the toddler. Yet Jon and Robert ran away, afraid. They weren’t prepared to kill, so they left James alone by the canal, crying loudly.
A woman saw James and assumed he was with some other children nearby. Jon and Robert turned around and walked back toward James. “Come on, baby.” In his utter innocence, little James with a big bruise and cut on his forehead, once again followed his tormentors. They covered the child’s head with the hood of his anorak so that his wound would be less visible. Holding James’s hand, they walked back toward Stanley Road and crossed at a busy intersection. After returning from the canal, the boys seemed to have lost their purpose and their direction. They meandered, strolling past shops, halls, offices, and car parks. A witness on a bus saw the two boys, swinging the toddler’s hands, as he walked between them. A motorist later saw the boys pulling the baby, against his will. He was crying and did not want to go further. He saw Robert kick the baby in the ribs. “A persuading kick,” the witness later described it. Jon, Robert, and James had walked over a mile by now, along a busy road in Liverpool. It was late afternoon. At another crossing James began to cry for his mother again. He ran off and almost ran into traffic, but Robert caught him and pulled him back. Motorists watched the boys as they crossed the street and could see that James was crying, dragging his heels. Some thought James was crying because he was not allowed to run free.
Jon carried James by the legs, while Robert held him by the chest. They awkwardly carried the boy to a grassy plateau by a reservoir where they sat on a step and rested, placing James between them. A woman walking her dog passed them by and noticed that little James was laughing. But moments later, another person saw Jon punch James, grabbing him and violently shaking him. For some inexplicable reason, this witness pulled her curtains, shutting out the scene. It was growing dark. At the grassy knoll by the reservoir, an elderly woman noticed the baby, who was obviously hurt. She approached them and asked what the problem was. James was in tears, his face bruised and red. “We just found him at the bottom of the hill,” Jon and Robert claimed as if they didn’t know him. She told the boys to take him to the Walton Lane Police Station just down the road and gave them directions there. The little boy’s injuries worried her. She pointed them in the direction of the police, but watched incredulously as they walked off in the opposite direction. She shouted after them, but they didn’t turn back. As she stood there, unsure what to do, another woman who had seen the boys earlier said that James had been laughing. She believed the baby was okay; they were probably inexperienced brothers watching over their younger sibling. Later that night, the woman saw the news of the missing toddler on television. She immediately called the police and told them about her encounter. “I wish now I had done something,” she said.
The boys walked down the hill, eventually ending up at County Road. It had been nearly a two-mile hike by now. They stopped inside some of the shops. A woman walking a dog eyed the boys with the toddler and asked what was going on. They told her that they found the lost boy at the Strand and were on their way to the police station. Another concerned woman, who had a little girl with her, overheard the conversation and joined in. 'Well,' she said, “you’ve walked a long way from the Strand to Walton Lane Police Station.” Jon said, 'That’s where the man directed us.' When she asked where they lived, Robert was about to answer, but Jon cut him off. 'The police station is on our way home.' Robert let go of James’ hand, as if willing to relinquish him. The women watched Robert as he looked away. He seemed nervous. But then Jon took control. “Get hold of his hand,” he said. Robert once again took James by the hand. The younger woman with the child looked down at James, who was hurt, and appeared upset. 'Are you all right, son?' she asked. James didn’t answer. Jon insisted they would find the station; they would take care of it. But the woman felt something wasn’t right. It was getting dark and the boys weren’t honest. She asked that the other woman with the dog to watch her little girl, who was tired, while she escorted James to the station. But the woman with the dog refused -- her pet did not like children. As the boys took off, the younger woman called out, 'Are you sure you know the way?' Jon pointed in the direction. “I’ll go that way, missus.”
They walked into a shop. Robert asked the assistant where they could buy some sweets for their kid brother. The shopkeeper noticed James’s bruises and scrapes. Then they stopped at a pet shop, where Robert noticed a fish at the bottom of the tank. 'It's dead,' he said to the shopkeeper. The shop assistant thought it was a little strange how Jon gripped James’s hand, refusing to let him go. Outside, a fire broke out down the street. They watched for a bit, then crossed heavy traffic to Church Road West. They encountered two older boys who knew Robert and had a pair of trick handcuffs. They planned to use them on Robert and Jon, until they noticed the hurt toddler. 'Who is he?' they asked. Robert said it was Jon’s brother, and they were taking him home. The older boy was worried by the toddler’s red-streaked face and injuries. 'If you don’t take him home, I’ll batter you,' he later claimed to have said. Jon and Robert continued on. They came to the entrance of the railway and stopped. It was not too late to abandon the crying baby. The police station was not far off. Some people passed by and one of the boys said loudly, 'I’m fed up having my little brother. I have him from school all the time. I’m going to tell my mum I’m not going to mind him no more.' They walked back out toward Walton Lane, and stood close to the heavy traffic. The walked into an alley and as they emerged, someone later remembered seeing James laughing. Jon and Robert were amusing James, playing a game. It was now approximately 5:30 p.m. and night had fallen. The police station was to their right; Robert’s home was to their left. But the boys decided to go back to the railway, avoiding the police station.
With the decision to go to the rail tracks, Jon and Robert’s uncertain and meandering intent now turned deadly. On the way, Jon ripped off the hood of James’s anorak and threw it into the trees. It was this very hood that they had used to conceal his facial wounds. Apparently they decided it was no longer necessary.
The journey had been long, over two and a half miles. They had spent hours together. They had protected James, holding him back from traffic. They picked him up after ditching him by the canal. Only Jon and Robert know why they took James up the dirt embankment and to the railway. They found a hole in the fence, passed James through, and crossed the grass, kicking up dust as they walked through slabs of white shale to the rail tracks. The police station was just down the hill.
The attack and murder of James Bulger occurred between 5:45 and 6:30 p.m. It began with one of the boys flinging paint on James’s face into his left eye. He screamed. The boys threw stones at James, kicked him, and beat him with bricks. They pulled off his shoes and pants, perhaps sexually assaulting him. They hit him with an iron bar. When they thought James was dead, they laid his body on the railway track, covering his bleeding head with bricks. They left before the train came.
After the assault, Jon and Robert walked back to town. They went to visit a friend who wasn’t home, but hung out in front of his house anyway. Bored, they went to the video shop, one of Robert’s favourite places. Sometimes he ran errands for one of the women behind the counter, including picking up overdue rentals. She offered them a reward if they could collect on a particular past-due rental. Back at the video shop, the boys were about to receive their reward when Susan Venables, Jon’s mother, swung through the door, furious. She had been searching for Jon everywhere, including the railway.
Susan pulled both Jon and Robert out of the shop, screaming and beating them both. Robert ran away. She hauled Jon to the police station and asked the officer on duty to lecture Jon. At home, Jon was in tears. Susan told him that a little boy had been kidnapped from the shopping centre - and whoever the maniac was, he could have taken Jon. In the meantime, Robert had run home in tears and told his mother how “Jon Venables’ mum ragged me out of the video shop.” Robert’s mother, Ann Thompson, was furious and immediately reported the beating to the police. (As David James Smith, author of Beyond All Reason said, “both boys were immediately back in their more familiar role as victims rather than victimizers.”) At the station, the officer noticed a small scratch under Robert’s left eye. They assumed it was from Susan Venables.
James’s disappearance made the evening news and immediately calls poured in. Many believed they had seen the toddler in Walton. After one report that James was spotted by the canal, investigators planned to drag the water in the morning. The police interviewed Ralph and Denise Bulger, retracing her steps at the Bootle Strand. As with most child abductions, the parents are routinely considered suspects. But police had too many leads, which took the focus away from the Bulgers. After midnight on the day James disappeared, authorities watched the security videos taken at the shopping centre, hoping to catch a glimpse of his abductor. They were especially interested in reports of an older man with a ponytail who was at the Strand, who witnesses say approached other children that day.
James’s video image eventually scattered across the television screen. There he was, with two boys, not the ponytail man. Blurry, jumpy images, almost ghostlike. As they watched in disbelief, they realised they were not dealing with an older paedophile, but two young boys, children themselves. There was no way to identify the two older boys, but the baby’s clothing matched Denise’s description. They played the tape over and over, watching in horror as James was led toward the exit. Why would two children take another child? Police could understand the motives of a paedophile, but this was incomprehensible.
The next morning underwater searchers grimly searched the canal. Other searches organised to find James on land. Police released the video stills of the boys to the media, which appeared on television and in the papers. They hoped someone would recognise the boys, but unfortunately, the boys were so fuzzy that it could have been just about any neighbourhood kid. Mothers suspected their sons. Ann Thompson asked Robert outright if that was him on the video. He denied it. Ann worried and confided her fears to a friend and even threatened to take him to the police. On Sunday morning, a train engineer noticed something on the tracks that looked like a doll. At first it didn’t strike him as unusual neighbourhood kids routinely laid things out on the tracks. But after he thought about the missing child, he called the police that evening.
Four boys found James’s body on the tracks on Sunday afternoon, when they went up to the train tracks to look for footballs. At first they thought he was cat, then a doll, torn into two. Jon and Robert had laid out James directly on the track, aware that a train would come by soon. Perhaps they believed that the community would think it was an accident that James had wandered up to the tracks on his own and was run over. Or that if the train hit James, it would destroy all clues. His upper body was hidden within the coat. His lower body was further down the tracks, completely undressed. He had suffered 42 injuries, most to his face and head and had not died during the attack, but some time before the train hit him. Jon and Robert had left him while he was still alive.
Investigators stopped all approaching trains. Led by Detective Albert Kirby, police roped off the tracks and shielded the scene from bystanders and reporters. James’s body had been severed with some distance in between. It was as if there were two crime scenes, two bodies to examine. The upper part of his body, at first, appeared to be nothing more than a bundle of clothing. His lower half, however, was starkly naked. Police determined that James had been laid by the waist onto the rail, with his upper body on the inside of the tracks. It looked as if his head had been covered with bricks, but the force of the train disturbed the arrangement. The lower half of his body had been carried further down the track.
His clothing, which had been removed from the waist down, was laid near his head. His underwear was heavily soaked with blood. Nearby police found a heavy iron bar, two feet long, with bloodstains, and many bricks and stones with blood. They also found 3 AA batteries near the body. These batteries intrigued the investigators, who had suspicions about their placement before James was hit by the train. A tin of blue paint was also found nearby. James had been severely beaten around the head and neck. There had been fractures, cuts, bruises caused by blows from heavy blunt objects and there had been severe bleeding. On one cheek, a patterned bruise appeared, which indicated the imprint from a shoe. Although there was no conclusive evidence indicating a sexual assault, forensic specialists believed that some of the injuries below the waist were suspicious and sexual in nature.
Denise Bulger, who had been at the police station since her son’s disappearance, sensed something was going on. When she heard that a body had been discovered, she became horribly distressed. There was nothing she could do but wait, hysterical but contained in the station, anticipating the terrible confirmation that they had found James. Robert later brought a single rose to the crime scene. Other Local mourners had created a makeshift memorial for James near the railway. Robert noticed that television crews were filming the mourners and later argued that if he had killed James, why would he bring a flower for the baby?
At home, Jon showed an intense interest in the story of James’s disappearance. He asked his mother if they caught the boys. “If I seen them lads, I’d kick their heads in,” he said. On Sunday, when his mother told Jon that the little boy had been found dead by the tracks, Jon expressed concern for “his poor mum.” Neil, Jon’s father, asked him about the blue paint on his coat sleeve and Jon said Robert threw it at him. When the news reported that blue paint had been found on the boy’s body, the Venables did not openly suspect their son, even though he had missed school the day James was murdered and wore a “mustard” colour jacket, the same as the boy in the video.
Later a woman called the police station, reporting that her friend Susan Venables had a son named Jon, who had skipped school on that Friday and had blue paint on his jacket sleeve. He resembled the boy in the video. She said he had a friend named Robert Thompson, with whom he skipped school that day. With no other solid leads, investigators decided that Jon and Robert should be brought in for questioning. At 7:30 in the morning on Thursday, February 18, four police officers appeared on Ann Thompson’s doorstep with a search warrant. When Robert realized that he was a suspect, he began to cry. They rounded up his clothes and immediately noticed that there was blood on his shoes. When they came for Jon Venables, his mother Susan answered the door and said, “I knew you’d be here. I told him you’d want to see him for bunking school on Friday.” Susan mentioned that Jon “came home on Friday, with his coat covered in paint.” The police promptly asked for Jon’s mustard-yellow coat, which had indeed been splattered with blue paint. It even appeared that there was a small handprint on the sleeve. Jon grabbed hold of his mother and sobbed. “I don’t want to go to prison, mum. I didn’t kill the baby.” He cried hysterically. “It’s that Robert Thompson. He always gets me into trouble.” Through tears, Jon told police they should speak to Robert. As they drove him to the police station, Jon continued to ask about Robert. Had they arrested him yet, and where were they taking him? Despite Robert and Jon’s distressed reactions to being arrested, the police did not immediately suspect that they were the killers. They were simply following up on a tip. There were other boys with violent records out there and, besides, the boys in the Strand video looked to be 13 or 14 years old. Jon and Robert were small, still little kids themselves. But, following procedure, investigators interviewed Jon at the Lower Lane police station and Robert at the Walton Lane police station, which was just down the slope from where James had been killed. The boys, especially Jon, were both terrified and fascinated by the police procedure. As they took Jon’s fingerprints, he nervously asked how fingerprints worked. They seemed like invisible ink, magical to him. “Do you leave these on whatever you touch?” he asked. “If you touch someone’s skin does it leave a fingerprint? If you drag someone really hard, do you leave your nails in his skin?” He wanted to know if they were taking Robert Thompson’s prints too. Police took blood, hair, and fingernail samples from both boys. In the meantime, a shopkeeper from the Strand called the police. The boys from the video might have been in their store on the day James disappeared, so police came down and took fingerprints. Jon’s were matched.
During the interviews that followed, both boys denied everything, but, as the week went on , and as they became more distraught, they started to admit bits, but claim the other was the instigator.
By the end of the week police had enough information to go for a conviction of the boys, jointly.
22 February 1993, The two boys were charged with Bulger's murder, they were the youngest people to be charged with murder in England and Wales during the 20th century.
Both boys were detained until their trial, set for November of 1993. They would undergo psychiatric evaluations and further interviews. In the meantime, the British court system had to prepare accommodations for the two young defendants.
14th May 1993, both Jon and Robert appeared at the Liverpool Crown Court to enter their pleas of “not guilty.” The case would be tried in Preston, which was closer to the boys’ secure units. Jon hyperventilated during the court hearing and could not participate in the police line-ups because he was too distraught. Both the prosecution and defence worried about his ability to participate in his own defence.
1st November 1993: Trial begins;
In order to allow the defendants to see above the railings, the Preston Crown Court built a special raised platform on which the two boys would sit during the trial. (It would later be argued that this extraordinary “displaying” of the defendants constituted an unfair trial.) Carpenters bolted down the chairs in public gallery so that no one could throw them. The hours of the trial approximated school day hours, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The boys would be tried together. Presiding Judge Sir Michael Morland ruled that the boys be known as Child A and Child B (Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, respectively.) Although the defendants were supposedly anonymous by name, everyone got a good look at them, and watched their behaviour closely. On the raised platform sat Robert, heavier than before, and looking older than his now 11 years. He stared ahead, or up at the ceiling, kicked off his shoes, and yawned. He showed little emotion. Onlookers assumed Robert was the “guilty one.” He had no family present and sat glumly next to his social worker, who showed little affection toward him. Jon seemed more contrite, anxious, constantly looking back at his mother for her support.
The prosecution, led by Richard Henriques, presented their case, contending that both boys took part in James Bulger’s death.
Because both defendants were under the age of 14, the prosecution had to prove they knew that their actions were severely wrong. “You can properly be satisfied that each of them knew it was seriously wrong to take a young child from his mother, to try to do so, and to use such extreme violence on a child of such tender years.” As the jury received files, which included photos of the crime, they were visibly moved
Jon and Robert did not participate in the trial -- they did not take the stand at any time, and the court rarely addressed them.
They were incapable of understanding the procedures. Denise Bulger, who didn’t appear, had her statement read to the jury. They watched as the evidence clearly indicated their guilt: the Strand security videos, blood-splattered bricks, stones, clothing, a tin of blue paint, and a heavy bar. Forensic scientists gave assessments of James’s injuries, which were so numerous, that they couldn’t determine which one caused his death. One particular imprint on James’s cheek was conclusively linked to Robert’s bloody shoe, indicating that he was an indisputable participant.
Did the boys know the difference between right and wrong? This was an important issue for the prosecution. The Victorian concept of “doli incapax” was established to protect innocent (and ignorant) children from corporal punishment. In an earlier era, wild street children were executed for their crimes. “Doli incapax” meant that children were incapable of wrongdoing because they cannot grasp the consequences of their actions. To this point, Jon and Robert’s teachers testified. Psychiatrists took the stand, believing both defendants knew the severity of their crime. The court then played the recorded police interviews, which also revealed their understanding of the charges.
Jon’s hysterical, high-pitched crying affected many who heard it. It was at this point in the trial that the boys paid close attention. Each was interested in what the other had said and indignantly listened as they accused each other of the murder. Robert, who tried to appear cool and tough throughout the trial, was upset when he heard Jon claim that Robert was like a girl because he played with dolls. Jon sheepishly watched Robert’s reactions when he accused him of beating James. As he waited, Robert knit gloves for his baby brother and said he knew that they would find him guilty.
The verdict came in that afternoon. For the first time, Denise set foot in the courtroom with her husband Roger by her side. As expected, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were found guilty. Jon sobbed while Robert sat motionless.
The Judge, Mr Justice Morland, addressed the boys: “The killing of James Bulger was an act of unparalleled evil and barbarity. This child of two was taken from his mother on a journey of over two miles and then, on the railway line, was battered to death without mercy. Then his body was placed across the railway line so it would be run over by a train in an attempt to conceal his murder. In my judgment your conduct was both cunning and very wicked.”
“This sentence that I pass upon you both is that you should be detained during Her Majesty’s pleasure, in such a place and under such conditions as the Secretary of State may now decide. You will be securely detained for very, very many years, until the Home Secretary is satisfied that you have matured and are fully rehabilitated and until you are no longer a danger.” The judge also allowed that the media be allowed to publish the boys’ names. From the gallery, someone shouted, “How do you feel now, you little bastards?”
The judge, set their minimum period of imprisonment to eight years. This was increased to 10 years on appeal by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Taylor of Gosforth.
Later it was increased to 15 years by the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, on the grounds that he was 'acting in the public interest'. This decision was then overturned in 1997 by the Law Lords.
October 2000, Lord Chief Justice Harry Woolf reduced their minimum sentence by two years in recognition of their good behaviour and remorse shown while in detention, effectively restoring the original trial judge's eight-year recommended minimum.
June 2001, the parole board ruled that the boys were no longer a threat to public safety and could now be released as their minimum tariff had expired. The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, approved the decision, and they were released within weeks.
They were given new identities and moved to secret residence locations under a 'witness protection' action. They will live out their lives on a 'life licence', which allows for their immediate re-incarceration if they break the terms of their licence.
April 2007, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act confirmed that the Home Office had spent £13,000 on an injunction to prevent a foreign magazine from revealing the new identities of Thompson and Venables
March 2010, Press speculation, Venables is allegedly back in prison due to a licence breach.
It is alleged that Venables was recalled on his murder licence for being found with indecent images of children. Another report suggests he was taken back to prison after a fight with a work colleague. This is all only speculation the government has refused to confirm any of the reports
8th March 2010, In a statement to the House of Commons, Home Secretary, Jack Straw reiterated that it was 'not in the interest of justice' to reveal the reason why Venables had been returned to custody
21st June 2010, Venables was charged with possession and distribution of indecent images of children.
23rd July 2010, Jon Venables appeared at a court hearing at the Old Bailey via a video link, visible only to the judge hearing. He pleaded guilty to charges of downloading and distributing child pornography, he was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
27th June 2011, at a parole hearing the parole board decided that Venables should remain in custody, and that his parole would not be considered again for at least another year.
November 2011, it was reported that officials had decided that Venables should stay in prison for the foreseeable future, as he would be likely to reveal his true identity if released. the Ministry of Justice refused to comment on the report.