The murder of two year old James Bulger was one of those crimes that periodically shock the nation. His kidnapping and murder by ten year olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables has been thoroughly documented by countless newspaper articles, more in-depth academic and semi-academic studies, and by a number of excellent TV documentaries, but for a brief recap, see this article
Although there have been more horrific murders - if only by sheer number - some fascinate the public more than others. In the 1960s there was the Moors Murders
; more recently there was the Soham Murders
, both of which were back in the news recently, albeit for sensationalist rather than serious reasons.
The murder of James Bulger was back in the news for anything but sensationalist reasons; although one of his killers, Robert Thompson, has now apparently been integrated back into society and will hopefully never be heard of again, the same cannot be said for Venables, who was caught with a stash of “high grade” child porn
on his computer.
Since March last year when the authorities announced he had been arrested on these new charges, there has been much speculation as to his fate. Because his new identity and location within the prison system is protected by a blanket injunction, it is difficult if not impossible to confirm much of what has been written about him. Even his trial on the child pornography charges was held in camera - he appeared by video link, and the only person in the courtroom who saw him was the judge.
Last month, a tabloid reported
that he had been attacked in prison, although due partly to the notoriety of the newspaper concerned, that claim too is to be taken as unconfirmed. The latest news is that he will remain behind bars after his current sentence is completed because he cannot be trusted
to keep his identity a secret. As a convicted murderer on life licence, this was an option anyway, and the authorities will also have been concerned about his other behaviour, including possession of cocaine.
The concensus amongst all but the most woolly minded of liberals appears now to be that not only is society safer with Venables permanently behind bars, but so is he.