They led him through the streets of Bootle and Liverpool, a two and a half mile journey witnessed by more than 20 people who recalled the little boy 'bawling'. James sobbed, he cried, he was grasped by the hands or held by his abductors in a bearhug. He had been struck on the head, said Mr Richard Henriques, for the prosecution.
The two killers kicked James's head until the blood sprayed them. They smashed the boy's skull with bricks, cracking it in many places. He was beaten repeatedly. They stripped him from the waist down and left his body on a railway track to be severed by a train. James Bulger was aged two, his killers aged 10.
The ordeal lasted for about two and a half hours on 12 February.
The two boys, who may in law be identified only as A and B, deny the abduction and murder of James Bulger; they also plead not guilty to the attempted abduction earlier the same day of another little boy. The accused are now aged 11.
Mr Henriques said A and B acted together to steal James from his mother's side as she shopped at a butcher's in the Strand Centre. They caused his death together, they both intended to kill or cause injury, and knew their behaviour was 'seriously wrong'.
The accused listened to the case against them from specially elevated seats. They wore school ties. Both fidgeted in the ceramic and panelled formality of the court.
Beside each boy sat his social worker. The parents of boy B listened from just beneath their son's right shoulder. He wept as the sequence of events was related to the jury. He clutched the arm of his social worker, tucked his head closer for comfort and, as he became more distraught, his parents bent lower in their courtroom pew. Boy A showed no emotion, gazing occasionally towards the ceiling.
Mr Henriques said A and B should have been at school that Friday. Instead, they were seen at the Strand as early as 9.45am. They were 'acting stupid'.
At noon they had tried unsuccessfully to lure a boy from his mother.
Soon after 3pm, they were seen running from a toyshop kicking a tin of enamel paint used by model-makers. By 3.40pm, James Bulger and his mother, Denise, were at the butcher's and, 24 seconds later, security cameras were recording Mrs Bulger's desperate, futile search for her son.
Just after 3.43pm, the cameras captured his image, leaving the centre with A and B.
The three were to be seen by witnesses at the Strand, on the taxi rank, in the surrounding streets, at a reservoir and, finally, climbing the railway embankment at
Walton, Liverpool. James suffered multiple skull fractures and numerous other injuries.
Brick dust was found on his clothes. A train ran over his body, Mr Henriques told the jury of nine men and three women.
The police found bloodstained bricks. Blood on the toecaps of the accused boys' footwear matched James's. Blue-grey metallic paint was found on the body and on the clothing of A and B. A paintmark made on B's sleeve could have been left by 'a small hand'.
About 100 yards from the body, they found a tin of blue-grey Humbrol paint similar to the stock kept at the toyshop.
The case continues today.
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