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James Bulger mother: killer Jon Venables is 'where he belongs'
The mother of the murdered toddler James Bulger said his killer Jon Venables is “where he belongs” in her first reaction to news of his return to custody.
Venables, 27, was recalled to prison last week after breaching the terms of his release from prison, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.
The convicted murderer was aged ten whenhe and Robert Thompson abducted the two-year-old from a shopping centre in Bootle and battered him to death on a railway line in 1993.
The pair were controversially freed with new names, birth certificates and national insurance numbers in 2001, at the age of 18, having spent their jail sentences in separate secure units without setting foot in a young offenders institution or an adult jail.After his release Venables is reported to have been allowed to join the army. Unconfirmed reports in the Daily Mail suggest that he is now a born-again Christian, had settled down and had plans to marry. Thompson is said to be living with a gay partner, after attending art school.
Both must stay in regular touch with senior probation officers who are sworn to secrecy about their conduct.
James’smother Denise Fergus said on her Twitter account last night: “Would like to let everyone know Jon Venables is were he belongs tonight behind bars is this my sons justice”.
Family members said that Mrs Fergus had not been told how Venables had breached his parole. The precise details were not released by the MoJ.
A ministry spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that Jon Venables has been recalled tocustody following a breach of licence conditions.
“Offenders on licence are subject to strict conditions; if they breach those conditions they are subject to immediate recall.
“There is a worldwide injunction in place that prohibits any reporting, including reporting on the internet, that could identify him or his location.”
Among the conditions placed on Venables and Thompson when they werereleased were a ban on contacting each other or any member of the Bulger family and a prohibition on returning to Merseyside without written consent from their probation officers.
They were told that they could be sent to an adult prison if their behaviour deteriorated or they started using drugs and that if they were convicted of another crime they could face a life sentence.
Speculation is rifeabout why Venables has been recalled. Michael Wolkind QC, a barrister in criminal law, said that the MoJ would not lightly have returned Venables to custody, running the risk that his cover would be blown in prison.
"To go to all the trouble of building him a new identity and a new life, there must be a significant chance it was serious," said Mr Wolkind.
Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, saidtoday that he understood public concern that no reason had been given for Venables' recall to jail, but insisted the silence was necessary.
"I have no interest in gratuitously or unnecessarily withholding information, but there are good reasons to withhold it at the moment and that is in the public interest," said Mr Straw.
"So I fully understand the frustration that people feel, but thereassurance for the Bulger family and the public is that this system has worked. He was not at liberty, he was on life licence subject to recall, and he has been recalled."
Mr Straw pointed out that as Home Secretary in the late 1990s he turned down an initial approach by Venables and Thompson's lawyers for them to be released on parole. The killers then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights,which ruled that it was wrong for a politician to decide how long a criminal should spend in jail.
As a result the boys' cases were referred to the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, who decided that they could be released on licence after seven years and eight months in social services secure units, so that the good progress they had made there would not be overturned by sending them to adult...
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