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Decision on release of James Bulger killer delayed

A spokeswoman for James’s mother said the decision of a Parole Board panel has been put back by two weeks.

A custody image of Jon Venables after he murdered James.

A decision on whether to release one of the killers of toddler James Bulger from jail has been delayed by two weeks.

The Parole Board hearing for Jon Venables took place in mid-November and a decision was expected this week on whether he is safe to be freed.

But a representative for Denise Fergus, the mother of James, said on Tuesday that there will be a wait before the decision is made.

The Parole Board confirmed that the case had been adjourned, but would not give further details.

Denise Fergus, the mother of murdered toddler James Bulger, has urged the parole panel not to free Venables.
Denise Fergus, the mother of murdered toddler James Bulger, has urged the parole panel not to free Venables. (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Kym Morris said: “We have been made aware that the parole decision, initially expected this week, will now be made in another two weeks.

“While this news is undoubtedly frustrating for Denise and her family, we understand and appreciate the importance of adhering to procedural requirements in such matters.

“Denise and her family are grappling with heightened emotions and uncertainty.

“It is our sincere hope that, despite the delay, the Parole Board will carefully consider all relevant factors and make the decision that ensures the safety of the public, well-being of Denise and her loved ones, by not granting Jon Venables parole.”

Venables was jailed alongside Robert Thompson in November 1993 at the age of 10 for the harrowing murder of two-year-old James after they snatched him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside.

James Bulger, who died in 1993.
James Bulger, who died in 1993. (PA)

He was released on licence in July 2001 and recalled to prison in February 2010 after indecent images of children were found on his computer.

Venables was again released in August 2013 and then called back in November 2017 for the same offence.

His most recent parole review was in September 2020.

There is a long-standing legal order in place to protect the identities of Venables and Thompson because of their young age when they committed the murder.

This meant that the chairwoman of the Parole Board of England and Wales, Caroline Corby, chose not to hold his parole hearing in public, and that James’s family were not able to attend.

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