James Bulger’s mother: Jon Venables’ new identity shouldn’t be exposed

New identity of James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables should NOT be revealed in case it leads to innocent people being attacked says murdered toddler’s mother

  • James’s father is trying to overturn a court order giving Venables anonymity
  • However, mother Denise disagrees and says the order should not be overturned 
  • She understands motivation but it would lead to innocent people being attacked
  • The man formerly known has Venables has re-offended since his release  

The mother of murdered toddler James Bulger is not supporting an application to reveal the new identity of his killer Jon Venables (pictured after the killing)

The mother of murdered toddler James Bulger is not backing a legal challenge to have the new identity of killer Jon Venables revealed.

James’s mother, Denise Fergus, said on Tuesday that she is not involved in the High Court proceedings launched by the murdered toddler’s father Ralph Bulger.

Ms Fergus says that while she ‘understands the motivation’, she is not supporting the application.

In a statement, she said: ‘I understand the motivation for the application, but my concern is that if Venables were known by his own name, it could lead to vigilante action and innocent people being hurt. 

‘Beyond that, I have no further comment to make.’

The father and uncle of the murdered toddler launched a legal challenge against an order made almost two decades ago which has allowed the killer Jon Venables to live under a cloak of anonymity.

Details of an application by Ralph and Jimmy Bulger were aired at the High Court for the first time at a hearing in London on Tuesday.

Sir James Munby, the most senior family judge in England and Wales, was asked to deal with preliminary issues in the case which relates to an order originally granted in 2001.

As the proceedings got under way, Sir James, President of the High Court’s Family Division, confirmed that James Bulger’s mother Denise was not involved in the application.

The father and uncle are represented by solicitor-advocate Robin Makin, who told the judge he needed material relating to the proceedings dating back 18 or 19 years to prepare his case properly. 

Mr Makin said it was because the injunction was granted on the basis that Venables was rehabilitated and would not re-offend.

The situation has changed as he has since been convicted on two separate occasions, most recently in February.


Two-year-old James Bulger (right) was abducted and murdered in Merseyside in February 1993. His mother (left) is not backing a legal challenge to reveal killer Jon Venables’ new name

Venables has been living anonymously since his release from a life sentence for the kidnap, torture and murder of two-year-old James Bulger 25 years ago.

James was murdered by 10-year-olds Venables and Robert Thompson after they snatched him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993.

Both Venables and Thompson were later granted lifelong anonymity by a High Court judge.

Following release they have lived under new identities.

Robert Thompson was also locked up over James’ killing

But Venables has since been convicted and sent back to jail over indecent images of children.

In February, he was jailed for three years and four months after admitting surfing the dark web for extreme child abuse images and possessing a ‘sickening’ paedophile manual.

He was charged after police found more than 1,000 indecent images on his computer.

It was the second time he had been caught with such images and when he was arrested he told police he was plagued by ‘stupid urges’.

Timeline: James Bulger’s murder and the conviction of his killers

1993

  • February 12: Two-year-old James Bulger is snatched during a shopping trip to the Strand shopping centre, in Bootle, Merseyside.
  • February 14: The toddler’s battered body is found by children playing on a freight railway line 200 yards from Walton Lane police station, Liverpool, and more than two miles from the Strand shopping centre.
  • February 18: Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both 10-year-olds, are arrested in connection with the murder of James, and later charged. They are the youngest to be charged with murder in the 20th century.
  • February 22: There are violent scenes outside South Sefton Magistrates’ Court in Bootle, when the two primary school pupils, then known as Child A and Child B, make their first appearance.
  • November 24: Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, now both aged 11, are convicted of James Bulger’s murder following a 17-day trial at Preston Crown Court. They are ordered to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, the normal substitute sentence for life imprisonment when the offender is a juvenile.

A surveillance camera shows the abduction of two-year-old James Bulger from the Bootle Strand shopping mall February 12 1993

1994

  • July: The eight year sentence tariff set by the trial judge, which has already been increased to 10 years by Lord Chief Justice Lord Taylor of Gosforth, is increased again to 15 years by the Home Secretary Michael Howard.

1997

  • June: The Law Lords rule by a majority that Mr Howard has acted illegally in raising the boys’ tariff.

1999

  • March: The European Commission on Human Rights finds that Thompson and Venables were denied a fair trial and fair sentencing by an impartial and independent tribunal.

2000

  • March: Home Secretary Jack Straw says he will not set a date for Thompson and Venables’ release.
  • October: Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf reinstates the trial judge’s original tariff, paving the way for their release.

2001

  • January: James Bulger’s killers win an unprecedented court order from High Court judge Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss which grants them anonymity for the rest of their lives.
  • June: Thompson and Venables are freed under new identities.

2008

  • September: Venables is arrested on suspicion of affray after he and another man become involved in a drunken street fight. He is given a formal warning by the Probation Service about breaching the good behaviour expected of him as a condition of his licence.
  • Later the same year he is cautioned for possession of cocaine after he was found with a small amount of the class A drug, which was said to be for personal use. The public remained unaware of both offences until 2010.

2010

  • March 2: Venables is returned to prison after breaching the terms of his release, the Ministry of Justice says. It kick-starts frenzied media speculation over the nature of the alleged breach.
  • April 16: Prosecutors handed a police file over the latest allegations.
  • June 21: A judge at the Old Bailey lifts media restrictions, allowing it to be reported that Venables has been charged with downloading and distributing child pornography.
  • July 23: Venables pleads guilty to the charges. He is sentenced to two years in prison. James Bulger’s mother Denise Fergus attacks the length of sentence as ‘simply not enough’.
  • July 30: A judge rules Venables’ new identity must be kept secret because of the ‘compelling evidence’ of a threat to his safety, saying ‘unpopular’ defendants had as much right to protection from retribution as anyone else.

2013

  • July 4: Venables is granted parole.

2017  

  • Venables is in prison again after allegedly being caught with indecent images of children.  

2018 

  • He admits child pornography charges and is jailed for 40 months.

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