One of Britain's most notorious murderers, who was just 10 years old when he killed a two-year-old toddler, has been jailed for two years for downloading and distributing indecent images of children.
Jon Venables, now 27, pleaded guilty to three charges in relation to child pornography at the Old Bailey central criminal court in London, appearing by video link from jail where he has been held since being recalled in February.
Venables and Robert Thompson were given life sentences for the brutal murder of toddler James Bulger in 1993, but the pair were released on licence in 2001 and given secret new identities for their own safety.
The sadistic torture and murder of Bulger caused horror across Britain and fears about attacks on the two killers continue. Only the judge hearing the case on Friday was able to see Venables give his video evidence.
After pleading guilty, the judge sentenced him to two years in jail. But he said that because he was still on licence, he would not automatically be released after serving his time and it would be up to a parole board to decide.
Bulger's mother Denise Fergus, in court to hear the verdict, rejected this as insufficient and demanded to know why Venables had not been recalled to prison two years ago when he was arrested in a drunken street fight.
"Justice has not been done. These were very serious offences and two years is simply not enough to meet the gravity of what this person did," her spokesman Chris Johnson told reporters outside court.
"We're surprised and concerned that he was not recalled under the terms of his parole licence when he committed an offence in 2008," he added, and called for a "full investigation" into the way the probation service handled the case.
Venables admitted downloading 57 pornographic pictures of children on to his computer between February 2009 and February 2010, distributing indecent photos of children in February this year and distributing 42 images in February 2008.
His lawyer, John Gibson, said afterwards that he accepted his sentence and was "genuinely ashamed" about what he had done.
He also addressed Bulger's murder 17 years ago, when Venables and Thompson snatched the toddler from a shopping centre in Liverpool, northwest England.
They took him to a nearby train track where they beat him with bricks and an iron bar and left him for dead.
The lawyer said: "He has said that every day since what took place in 1993 he has thought about how different life might have been for all those affected, who he appreciates have also had their own reasons for reflection."
He said Venables felt returning to prison was "something of a relief" and "he is determined now, once and for all, to become the person he wishes to be so that when he is eventually released from prison, he will never go back".
After the two killers were released a decade ago, nothing more was known about their new lives until police began investigating Venables.
The pictures were found on his computer by accident, after Venables himself alerted the authorities after fearing that his new identity has been compromised, the court heard.
He called a probation officer and was told to gather his belongings, and when the officer arrived he was trying to delete files from his computer and remove the hard drive.
Police examined the computer and found images involving children as young as two. There were also videos featuring young girls being raped and forced to perform oral sex.
Speaking in court, another of Venables' lawyers, Edward Fitzgerald, said his client did what he did partly because of the "wholly abnormal situation" of living under an assumed name amid "constant fear of reprisals".
His "isolation" had led him into a "downward spiral of drink and drugs" and he had become addicted to cocaine and mephedrone, Fitzgerald said.
afp 24 July 2010
It is great how under the Anglo-Masonic Law System,
you can KILL someone, and literally get away with it, after a few years of jail.
Lawyers 'argue' the excuses as if condoning the actions.
People of this calibre are beyond help and are a danger to society
BUT are still let out by the system ONLY to re-offend, against who,
the masses and NOT the lawmakers.