One of Britain’s most horrifying and sensational murder cases took another twist this week when the public learned that convicted child-killer Jon Venables, one of the two youngest convicted killers in the history of modern England, was secretly released from prison with his fourth new, government-sponsored identity.
On February 12, 1993, Venables and another boy, Robert Thompson, were 10 years old when they abducted a toddler, James Bulger, from a shopping mall in the community of Bootle, outside of Liverpool in England’s northwest Merseyside region.
Bulger was a month shy of his third birthday.
The two 10-year-olds then walked the younger child to the village of Walton, more than two miles away, where they beat and tortured him before killing him by smashing his skull with an iron bar.
Due to the ages of the youthful murderers, they were sentenced to detention only until they reached 18. Venables (pictured, after his arrest at age 10) was released in 2001, with a new identity created at British taxpayer expense.
But Venables did not adjust well to freedom. He developed alcohol and drug problems and though prohibited from entering Merseyside, he visited anyway.
Thompson has also been released under a new identity. But Venables couldn’t keep his secret to himself. He made a habit of revealing who he really was to acquaintances.
In 2010, Venables was arrested a second time, charged with downloading and possessing numerous pornographic images of children. He reportedly once told an acquaintance that sexually abusing a child was his idea of “the ultimate thrill.”
The slain toddler’s parents were outraged at Venables latest release.
"He is a danger to the public. He lies for his own sick ends,” the boy’s mother, Denise Fergus, told the British press. “The probation service didn't monitor him properly last time so I have no faith in their ability to do that now. They should've kept him locked up for a long time."
The British government created new identities for Venables when he was jailed in 1993, again when he was released in 2001 and then one more time when a “security breach” caused his alias to be discovered.
British authorities had planned to forego a new identity for Venables this time around, believing that he cold not keep the secret. But when pictures of him circulated on the internet, they changed their minds.
Each new identity is estimated to cost British taxpayers about £250,000, or just under $400,000, according to the Daily Mail newspaper.
SOURCES: Daily Telegraph, BBC News, Daily Mail, Wikipedia