James Bulger's killer back behind bars over 'vile' new child abuse images

Jon Venables, one of the killers of toddler James Bulger, who has has admitted having more than a thousand indecent images of children.
Jon Venables, one of the killers of toddler James Bulger, who has has admitted having more than a thousand indecent images of children.
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Child killer Jon Venables has been jailed for three years and four months after admitting surfing the dark web for extreme child abuse images and possessing a "sickening" paedophile manual.

Venables, who kidnapped, tortured and murdered toddler James Bulger 25 years ago, was charged after police found more than a thousand indecent images on his computer in November last year.

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".

Sentencing him on Wednesday at the Old Bailey, Mr Justice Edis said the latest images were "vile" and "heartbreaking", adding that many showed abuse of young boys like James.

Mr Justice Edis told Venables: "This case is unique because when you were 10 years old you took part in the brutal murder and torture of James Bulger.

"That was a crime which revolted the nation and which continues to do so even after the 25 years that has passed since it happened.

"The facts of what you did are notorious and there is no need for me to repeat them here."

Of the images he downloaded, the judge said it would be "heartbreaking for any ordinary person to see this kind of material".

He added that, given his background it was significant that a number of the images were of crimes against young boys.

The judge described the manual as a "vile document" and told Venables that by consuming these "products of barbarous evil", he caused abuse to happen.

James's mother Denise Fergus and father Ralph Bulger were in court for the hearing.

Earlier the judge declined a request to delay sentencing so Mr Bulger could make a victim impact statement, saying: "I know the impact on these two people of what happened when their child was killed.

"I know already how it must be for them when that tragic event is once more brought into the public domain into court and so on because of the offending of one of the killers."

Venables, who was released on licence in 2001 after serving eight years for the murder of two-year-old James, had pleaded guilty to four new charges.

He admitted having 392 category A images, 148 category B images and 630 category C images.

He also pleaded guilty to having a paedophile manual on or before November 17 last year.

Venables, who has lifelong anonymity, pleaded guilty via video link from custody.

Prosecutor Louis Mably QC said when his computer was seized, police found images of children mainly aged between six and 13, although some were younger.

They also found the paedophile manual, which Mr Mably said was "a disgusting and sickening document which falls far below any recognisable standard of morality."

He said Venables had software on his computer to browse the dark web.

As he was being taken to a police station, Venables said: "This is my own fault. I have let people down again.

"I have had stupid urges, inquisitive. I'm not going to be seeing this for a lot of years.

"It's not going to be a slap on the wrist for me."

The court heard that a report had found that Venables was a "high risk of real harm to children".

It states that he has a "long-term and profound interest in children".

Mitigating, Edward Fitzgerald QC said Venables had "expressed profound remorse for his part in the murder (of James) and worked hard for rehabilitation".

He said he never attempted to contact children for sexual purposes and the images he downloaded were for his own personal use.

When he was arrested, he expressed "dismay" and remorse and said he needed help to understand why he did it.

In 2010, Venables pleaded guilty at the same court to charges of downloading and distributing child pornography and was jailed for two years.

That was not the only time he had breached the terms of his licence.

In September 2008, he was arrested on suspicion of affray after a drunken brawl and was given a formal warning by the probation service.

Later the same year he was cautioned for possession of cocaine after he was found with a small amount of the class A drug.

James was kidnapped, tortured and killed by Venables and Robert Thompson, who was also ten, in February 1993.