Jury sees James 'abducted' on video

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The Independent Online
HE APPEARS as a tiny, lone figure, scarcely discernible amid an everyday scene from a shopping mall. Two-year-old James Bulger had left his mother's side for the last time, at 3.38 and 45 seconds on the afternoon of 12 February.

The jury at the Bulger murder trial yesterday watched 16 minutes of video snapshots recorded, one frame every three seconds, by security cameras at the Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside. Hundreds of figures jerk across the screen, in and out of the shots.

But two figures regularly appear on the film, the jury's attention directed to them by a tiny arrow- shaped cursor. The prosecution at Preston Crown Court alleges they are two 10-year-old boys, wandering the centre until they abduct James, and later murder him.

The next day his mother, Denise, not knowing he was dead, spoke to police as if expecting him back. 'His hair is ready for cutting,' she said in her statement, read to the jury before they watched the edited video recordings. 'He has a full set of baby teeth.'

Mrs Bulger, who was not in court yesterday, could provide only a partial narrative to what the cameras saw. They watched her and James enter a butcher's shop. She said she was served quickly, turned round, and 'he was gone'.

She panicked and began to search for James, but never saw him again. The cameras did. Less than three minutes later he was in the company of two boys. A minute later, the prosecution claims, he is seen with them again, his arm raised trustingly to hold the hand of one of his alleged abductors.

Both the accused boys watched the video recordings, neither showing any emotion; they deny the abduction and murder of James, and the attempted abduction of a second two-year-old boy the same day.

The last frame on the video, the jury was told, shows the boys heading out of the centre with James. Less than six minutes had elapsed since his arrival at the butcher's.

The case continues today.

Mother's frantic search, page 3

Letters, page 19