si fs. Apart from Jon's incident with the ruler, there had been no record of previous violence. Venables received a 40-month prison sentence after appearing via video link at the Old Bailey. Neighbors later reported that it wasnt uncommon for Robert to be seen wandering the streets of Walton after midnight, since he was always running off at night. Neil explained to him that the school they attended was special, and that Jon wouldnt be accepted. They played truant, they pinched sweets, they terrorised old ladies. Walton Village Financial Services would lend you pounds 300 for Christmas and demand a total of pounds 460 in repayment. In Jon's case, 'hyperactivity' went beyond mere fidgeting into outbursts of sudden anger and violence. Ann was a heavy drinker, separated from her husband, also called Robert, who had deserted the family several years earlier and did not attend court. He had that odd combination of obsession with and disdain for possessions that is characteristic of children who have never enjoyed any of their own. Nicola had to exchange some clothes at TJ Hughes, Denise waited nearby, watching the children. Ann Thompson and Susan and Neil Venables didn't need to imagine. "One mystery surrounding the murder of James Bulger case is why the 'experts' insisted that Jon Venables was rehabilitated. Resentful of her husbands lack of involvement with the children, Susan conceded that the couple fought constantly, especially throughout 1983, but maintained that Neil had never been aggressive towards her, nor had she hit him. The Venables decided to place her with their eldest son, in a school for children with special needs. Robert was number five of seven. When Jon left home on the morning of Friday, February 12 he was happy because it was the last day of school before a week's holiday and he was going to take some pet gerbils home. See that cell. Few had the patience to be friends with him, only his younger brother and a couple of lads who lived nearby. 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Most of the fun revolved around shoplifting - sweets, trolls, pepperami, tins of modelling paint, drinks, candles; anything, really. He was fearful, he was weak and he was provoked. WALTON, where they both lived, is, in the jargon of planning, an inner-city urban priority area; neither the best nor the worst the city has to offer. Born 10 days apart in August 1982 in Liverpool. I couldnt make any sense of it, Robert later recalled, desolately, when asked about his fathers unexpected departure. Among the list were several horror films, including one video in which the police took special interest: Child's Play 3, a film which carries the line 'Children are consumer trainees'. The pattern of bullying among the brothers, which had been noted by the Head mistress of the boys school, appeared to descend down the line, with the eldest Thompson brother beating the one just below him in age, and that brother beating the brother below him, in turn. Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected. The trial though didnt, and was never designed to, shed light on how two such young children could be guilty of such sustained barbarity. The teacher had a different perspective, saying that Susan was in fact aware of the issue, and had expressed deep concern. It was the kind of family neighbours compare themselves against and then feel better. Real bottom of the gut stuff, like an animal. The days James was abducted, February 12 1993, I was a young reporter in my home city of Liverpool. It has already been reported that Jon Venables real identity has been exposed in prison, where he is said to be receiving 24-hour protection. 'The attitude when you live where we live is that you have to be tough or else you don't survive,' she said. The statement said: "The man formerly known as Jon Venables has been charged with offences relating to indecent images of children and will appear in the Crown Court. Start your Independent Premium subscription today. He was repulsed because he found Robert's disdain for authority scary. James Bulger was weeks away from his third birthday, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson behaved very differently in court, Mother who killed her five children euthanised, AOC under investigation for Met Gala dress, The children left behind in Cuba's exodus, Alex Murdaugh jailed for life for double murder, US sues Exxon over nooses found at Louisiana plant, Zoom boss Greg Tomb fired without cause. She remained very frightened and felt that she and her son were the most hated people in the country. Finally, in 1988, while on a family vacation, the breaking point came, when Big Bobby, then thirty-four, began an adulterous relationship with a friend and neighbor in her fifties. He took a jar of paracetamol. David James Smith, who wrote a book about the Bulger case, The Sleep Of Reason, and stayed in touch with Ann Thompson afterwards. It seems likely that he was bullied. After a while the 10-year-olds began to charge - a tenner an interview. In the first press conference she gave the day after her son was taken, this 25-year-old woman struck me as a girl, a desperate, grief stricken girl whose tired swollen eyes told their own story. In a 1993 interview, published in the Guardian newspaper just one day after Robert was convicted of the murder of James Bulger, Ann Thompson was quick to place fault on the neighborhood and the surrounding authorities, who she felt had failed both her and her sons. Mrs Venables has also said that she felt. 'You'd better tell the truth. yet, as Venables is back behind bars. It was when Jon turned seven that Susan and the children had relocated to Norris Green, one of Liverpools larger, more reputable areas. Twenty-five years on, Im still prone to hot tears at the memory of it all and I do question the trial. Constantly restless, his workbooks were empty, and he would often be denied recess because he was so far behind. They were sent home to their mother at one point, but after attempting suicide with overdoses, were placed back into care. The left will make play of social deprivation, unemployment, bad housing and general inner-city rot. He said he was frightened of Robert's older brother. Susan was known as the town " whore". Venables and Thompson were seen on CCTV calmly leading the toddler out of the shopping centre by his hand. The boys at Dyson Hall were the object of some envy among their mates because they were given tracksuits and trainers upon arrival and went on trips to Alton Towers.   Thompson and Venables led Bulger away . Its beyond me," one viewer tweeted. Some neighbours claim they saw the boy snaring birds into traps in the back yard of his home, while one local youth claimed he saw the boy pull the heads off live baby pigeons. It was during this time that Susan, having suffered from clinical depression for many years, had experienced what were later described as two traumatic incidences, both of which Jon would have witnessed. But that is the common lot of thousands of 10-year-olds who have not turned into murderers. Mrs Venables walked around the area for hours, searching for him. By chance, the rest of Jon's family was driving past and spotted them. Want to bookmark your favourite articles and stories to read or reference later? Susan Venables, mother of Jon, blamed her son's "weakness" for the killing and said he was "fearful" and "provoked" by his accomplice Robert Thompson. I just think of James and his Dad and about all that fun with his little boy, like I had with Jon.". Then between 1990 and 1991, Jons teachers recognized a dramatic change in the boys behavior, which was alarming enough for one of his teachers to begin keeping a daily log. .". That was in September 1991, 17 months before they killed James Bulger. The final scene takes place among the tracks of a fun-fair ghost train where the doll, which resembles an infant with spiky hair has his face slashed before he is cut to pieces by a ventilator fan. He started with Liverpool, but by the time of the murder he had switched to Blackburn Rovers. From their point of view it makes perfect sense. . His body, defiled and broken in two by a train, two miles from where hed been taken, was foundtwo days later. They would sneak out during the morning break, hiding behind a wall before the coast was clear. Anne Thompson could hold her drink and no one ever saw her staggering home. And there were rewards for breaking rules. The case of James, a two-year-old who was snatched from a shopping centre in Bootle, Liverpool, in 1993, before being tortured and left to die, shocked the nation. In all, they played truant four times. Although Susan couldnt recall any dramatic change in Jons behavior, his teachers there expressed some concern that Jon had become upset and difficult following the separation. How can people defend their actions .#TheBulgerKillers.". I know how I feel as a mother. He liked to spend the weekend on the streets. It was a sign of such restlessness that he was unable to hang on to a football team for long - he kept shifting his allegiance like a floating voter. The taunts upset Jons already volatile temper, and he began coming home in increasingly low spirits and crying. They were in the Strand shopping centre in Bootle when the brother wandered off. The appearance in court this week of Venables, now a 35-year-old man, on charges of possessing indecent images of children, was a jarring reminder that, still a quarter of a century on, his rehabilitation is more an ambition than a reality. Last week the author Angela Phillips spoke of how the gentle son of the female friend of hers turned into a fascist skinhead: 'The boy his mother wanted him to become was not man enough for the world he was forced to inhabit. The documentary last night featured interviews with those involved in the 1993 trial, including James dad Ralph Bulger, Jon Venables solicitor Laurence Lee and detective sergeant Phil Roberts, who interviewed Robert Thompson. He said that on the day James was killed, when he went to the school in the afternoon to collect Jon he was told his son was missing. On November 24, 1993, the two boys, by then aged 11, became the youngest defendants to be sentenced for murder in a British court. At Preston Crown Court a few months later, I was one of a handful of journalists given full access to the small courtroom for the trial of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both now 11-years-old. When the court was played Jon's taped descriptions of how they had truanted they simultaneously smiled. One of the focal points of the local community was QD Videos at the bottom of Robert's street, where the kids would browse through the horror stacks, discussing their favourites knowledgeably. "An awful mistake for 10 year olds is shoplifting not murdering a 2 year old FFS," another angry viewer tweeted. Born on August 13th, 1982, Jon was the middle child of Neil and Susan Venables. We still think the same of him as we always have. March 10, 2021 - 20:29 GMT Eve Crosbie. In the business world, too many people think it's all about being hard, tough, ambitious, or having grit. Susan Venables has blamed weakness for her sons role in the killing of James Bulger, claiming that he got involved with the wrong person. Regrettably, yet perhaps not entirely unforeseen, the cycle of abuse continued. Less thanfive hours laterthe verdicts were in. The toddler's mum Denise Bulger was at the counter of a butchers in the Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Liverpool, on February 12, 1993, when she briefly let go of her son's hand to get some change from her purse. By now the two boys from Walton were part of an international freak show. Everyone called him Chubby, because of his round, cherub's face. Teachers later reported that whereas the boys were manageable when separated, together their behavior worsened dramatically. Those who knew him well said he was a very emotional child, prone to mood swings. James smith (16 March 1990  - 12 February 1993) was a two-year-old boy from Kirkby, Merseyside, England, who was abducted, tortured, and murdered by two 10-year-old boys, Robert Thompson (born 23 August 1982) and Jon Venables (born 13 August 1982), on 12 February 1993. However, given that the tension in the household was persistent throughout the most crucial of Jons formative years, the belief that he had moved through the ordeal entirely unaffected is questionable. Im bringing them up on my own, but if I went round and screwed every warehouse, my kids would have everything, too. Even so, while Roberts community was rough, his home life was perhaps worse, and could hardly be considered a refuge for the boy. what is the bite force of a baboon. As their sweet voices rang around the courtroom, Venables hid his face in his oversized blazer and cried. Susan Venabless bent body shrank deeper into itself. Good people asked the boys if they were lost or urged them to take "their baby brother" home as he cried for his mummy. She would arrive at the secure unit with food parcels and is said to be proud of his achievements since the crime. My young body must have been tense with the deep anxiety that permeated every inch of that courtroom. Once Robert shared with him a tin of Roses chocolates which he had poured surreptitiously into his coat pocket. I'm bringing up on my own but if I went round and screwed every warehouse my children would have everything too.'. They went on family outings together, slept together, and when Susan did find a place, virtually coexisted between the two homes. The detective explained how, before she left, she soothed him, told him his parents would love him whatever he told the police, reminding him that Denise neededto know what had happened to her baby. Robert said 'If you tell anybody I'll get my big brother to batter you up'. Just four years earlier, we had all covered the Hillsborough disaster and come together in grief. The other boy, Robert Thompson, we are told is now abiding by the conditions of his life license since he was released 17 years ago, and is doing well. From a distance Robert looked a sweet child. The most agonising thing about the whole case was that so many people had stopped them and questioned them. Guilty of abducting and murdering James PatrickBulger. At 2:30 they went to the two-story shopping centre. Venables and Thompson abducted, tortured and killed two-year-old James in Liverpool in 1993 when they were both aged just 10. 'They would say 'take your son home'. Join Facebook to connect with Susan Venables and others you may know. Aged 10, he was barely literate. Who knows. so they were put in a lower year. NEIL Venables was warned by friends not to let his son play with the other boy. Southern. The shocking murder that shook the nation, Both Venables and Robert Thompson were 10 years-old when they tortured and killed 2 year-old James Bulger, Thompson and Venables were tried as adults, James Bulger, aged 2 years old, being led away in a shopping centre in Liverpool, Denise Fergus denied having anything to do with the Channel 4 documentary about her son, James Bulger's murder case could now be investigated, The petition is on nearly 15,000 signatures, James Bulger was just two when he was brutally murdered, He had been out shopping with his mum Denise, James was made to walk two miles before being left for dead on a disused rail line, Denise tirelessly campaigned to have their sentence increased, Denise once admitted she's lived 'in fear' since the trial. ql zo. Jon was also mad on computers. The prosecution, led by Richard Henriques QC, made its case quite simply really, using the journey they took James on to tell the story. kl. Denise Bulger believes her son's murderers - men now - should be in prison for ever. she said. One could draw some parallels between the film's plot and James Bulger's death. Grainy CCTV footage later showed the innocent toddler being led away by Venables and Thompson, who marched the little boy through the streets of Bootle for two miles - a walk that would have taken hours given his size. As his killers began their sentences, such was the revulsion that it was already clear their families could not. Will you tell his mum I'm sorry?". Just as Venables's confession convicted him, a shoe print belonging to Robert Thompson, found on James cheekbone, confirmed his guilt, too. He had left her to bring up six children alone. the street. The attitude when you live where we live is that you have to be tough or else you dont survive, she said. A newspaper man from Detroit said it was because 'Liverpool is the Beatles and love, love, love. 'They were just your average scruff - like the rest of us.'. He denied having had any films that were not mainstream, or that were pornographic, in the house. At the end of the street a mesh wire frame coverered the window of the money lenders. Extraordinarily, she even shouted up to the railway tracks at Walton where she knew Robert had a den. The fathers of both Robert and Jon were without work. The case is doomed to be picked over by every faction within the caring professionals and politics. The Royal Mint of a 50p coin featuring Professor Albus Dumbledore as part of a Harry Potter-themed collection. If I wanted to kill a baby, Id kill Id kill me own, wouldnt I?. But however hollow a gesture it might have seemed, those who are in touch with the Thompson and Venables families insist that they have sought to make some sort of amends with their sons after the horrific events of 17 years ago that will rightly stay with them for the rest of their lives. He was fearful of the other boy. They had much in common. On one occasion one of Anns sons let his real name slip at school and they had to move almost at once, says. Neil Venables, 40, said he felt "just devastated, thinking of that little boy'. Asked later if he could recall a time when his brother had exhibited any unusually aggressive tendencies, Roberts brother said no: Hes frightened of his own shadow. Nonetheless, in hindsight, its safe to assume that by 1993, ten-year-old Robert was swiftly approaching crisis point., Alarmingly, some of the neighboring children later claimed to have seen Robert behave cruelly towards animals, and pull the heads off of baby pigeons, although this was never unequivocally confirmed. As a new documentary is set to air on ITV, the haunting words of Jon Venables' parents have resurfaced. 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Then they had carried, dragged and kicked him along a two and a half mile journey, at times swinging him violently in the air or dropping him against the road, until they reached the railway where they stoned him with bricks, bashed his head with a 22lb iron bar, and left him dead across the tracks to be cut in half by a passing goods train. Forensic and pathology evidence was a huge challenge for everyone, not least the jury who were shown pictures of James' injuries. Self pity? Born on August 13th, 1982, Jon was the middle child of Neil and Susan Venables. eb. . 'In my opinion he was victimised. Occasionally, when the children would be left sitting on the red wall outside the house too long, one of the neighbours would call the police to go and get her out of the Top House. The two bumped into each other - literally - in the school playground in the middle of a fight. gl. The guilty verdicts came quickly - within five hours. He wanted a Rovers strip for his birthday present. ANN THOMPSON, the mother of Robert Thompson, child A, says her son is a thief, a liar, is devious and plays truant. With Neil seldom in contact with Susan or the children during this time, Susan was forced to contend with Jons escalating troubles alone, sometimes taking her own frustrations out on the children. Susan Venables's bent body shrank deeper into itself. They rejected suggestions that he could have watched Child's Play Three, a film that his father had rented three weeks before James's death, which, it has been claimed, included scenes similar to those of the attack on the two-year-old. Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in, Parents of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson talk about their sons, Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile. At school Jon was considered bright enough, though he had trouble keeping up with lessons. Venables was a different creature. For me, though, it is Susan and Neil Venables who stay most in my memory of that day. As a grim portrait of abuse, drunkenness and neglect emerged, the hatred and loathing for Robert Thompson and Jon Venables was also turned on their parents. "BULL**** about 'two frightened kids whod made a terrible mistake' The tapes said they kept stoning him, even when he kept getting up. Find out more, The latest offers and discount codes from popular brands on Telegraph Voucher Codes, As James Bulger killer Jon Venables is sent back to prison, Shelagh Fogarty writes about her experiences as a young reporter on the case at the time, James Bulger, aged 2 years old, being led away in the New Strand shopping centre in the Bootle area of Liverpool, Denise Bulger arrives at Preston Crown Couty on November 24 1993, Shelagh Fogarty was a young reporter at the time of the murder, The police van carrying Venables and Thompson arrives at Preston Crown Court, Sarah Ferguson exclusive: Meghan has made Harry very happy, 32 best gifts for her: top present ideas to buy for mother's day in 2023, Midlife women are being told to sit down and shut up and not just by men, Imogen Stubbs: Its become less and less acceptable to age, Cost of HRT set to be slashed in new prescription scheme, Magic Mike and the naked truth about male strippers, Inside the James Bulger files 25 years on. She said that Jon was always "loving, caring, thoughtful and considerate . It was this empowering chemistry between them that some argued set into motion the life-altering events that would devastate a family, challenge a community, and rock a nations core in the disquieting months that followed. He was jailed for two years before being granted parole again in July 2013. In 2010, Meggie Atkinson, then children's commissioner for England, called for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised to 12 in light of the trial. But curiosity drew him towards Robert in equal measure. He was jailed for two years before being granted parole again in July 2013.. Only a handful of officials and close family members know their true identities. The beginnings of the friendship were inauspicious enough. The first Susan Venables knew they had stayed away from school was when she saw one of Jon's classmates on her way home with the gerbils. Mrs Venables said: "He mentions James, not all the time. "He is easily led. Facebook gives people the power. I do believe that she feels guilty deep down for her own part in what happened., Despite the risks of discovery, the relationship is said to have contin- ued to thrive following Thompsons. The judge, in sentencing the boys yesterday, voiced his strong suspicion that exposure to violent videos had played a strong part in corrupting them.