James Bulger case
The James Bulger case is one of the most infamous cases to hit the United Kingdom. It was a murder that took place in Kirkby, Merseyside in England. James Bulger was a 2-year-old that was murdered. He was abducted, tortured and killed by two ten-year-old boys, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. James was led away from his mother in a shopping center. His body was found around 2.5 miles from Walton, Liverpool two days and he was killed. CCTV in the shopping center showed the murders choosing a target and stealing items that were found at the crime scene. The murders pushed Bulger into the Leeds and Liverpool canal. They took him to Walton and Anfield train station where they began torturing him by throwing paint in his eye. Then they kicked him, stamped on him and threw things such as bricks and stones. The also put batteries in his mouth. Finally, they dropped a 10kg iron bar on him.
He sustained 10 skull fractures as a result of the bar striking his head. Thompson and Venables laid Bulger across the railway tracks and weighted his head down with rubble, in the hope that a train would hit him and make his death appear to be an accident. After they left the scene, his body was cut in half by a train. Bulger’s severed body was discovered two days later on 14 February. A forensic pathologist testified that he had died before he was struck by the train. Forensic tests confirmed that both boys had the same blue paint on their clothing as found on Bulger’s body. Both had blood on their shoes; the blood on Thompson’s shoe was matched to Bulger’s through DNA tests. The boys were each charged with the murder of James Bulger on 20 February 1993, and appeared at South Sefton Youth Court on 22 February 1993, when they were remanded in custody to await trial.
The full trial opened at Preston Crown Court on 1 November 1993, conducted as an adult trial with the accused in the dock away from their parents, and the judge and court officials in legal regalia. The boys denied the charges of murder, abduction and attempted abduction. The attempted abduction charge related to an incident at the New Strand Shopping Centre earlier on 12 February 1993, the day of Bulger’s death. Thompson and Venables had attempted to lead away another two-year-old boy, but had been prevented by the boy’s mother. The boys, by then aged 11, were found guilty of Bulger’s murder at the Preston court on 24 November 1993, becoming the youngest convicted murderers of the 20th century. Shortly after the trial, and after the judge had recommended a minimum sentence of eight years, recommended that they should serve a minimum of ten years,8 which would have made them eligible for release in February 2003 at the age of 20. After the trial, Thompson was held at the Barton Moss Secure Care Centre in Manchester Venables was detained in Vardy House in Merseyside. On 15 March 1999, the court in Strasbourg ruled by 14 votes to 5 that there had been a violation of human rights regarding the fairness of the trial of Thompson and Venables, stating: “The public trial process in an adult court must be regarded in the case of an 11-year-old child as a severely intimidating procedure.” In October 2000, he recommended the tariff be reduced from ten to eight years, adding that young offender institutions were a “corrosive atmosphere” for the juveniles. In June 2001, after a six-month review, the parole board ruled the boys were no longer a threat to public safety and could be released as their minimum tariff had expired in February of that year. The Home Secretary David Blunkett approved the decision, and they were released a few weeks later on lifelong license after serving eight years. Both men “were given new identities and moved to secret locations under a ‘witness protection’-style programme.”This was supported by the fabrication of passports, national insurance numbers, qualification certificates and medical records. Blunkett added his own conditions to their license and insisted on being sent daily updates on the men’s actions. The terms of their release included the following: they were not allowed to contact each other or Bulger’s family; they were prohibited from visiting the Merseyside region; curfews may be imposed on them and they must report to probation officers. If they breached the rules or were deemed a risk to the public, they could be returned to prison. An injunction was imposed on the media after the trial, preventing the publication of details about Thompson and Venables. The worldwide injunction was kept in force following their release on parole, so their new identities and locations could not be published. Blunkett stated in 2001: “The injunction was granted because there was a real and strong possibility that their lives would be at risk if their identities became known.”
James Bulger case