Seven held as James Bulger murder suspects remanded

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SEVEN people were arrested during protests yesterday after magistrates remanded two 10-year-old boys charged with the abduction and murder of James Bulger.

A crowd of about 250 people, including young children, stood in drizzle outside the court buildings in Bootle, Merseyside, many claiming their presence was a demonstration of respect and solidarity with the bereaved family.

The body of two-year-old James was found eight days ago on a railway track in nearby Walton. He had become separated from his mother 48 hours earlier during a Bootle shopping trip.

The two boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were brought to the court at 6.45am to avoid the possibility of crowd trouble and kept in a special juvenile detention area in the basement.

Ushered into the hearing through a side door, one wore a white pullover with ribbed sleeves, a red shirt and grey corduroy trousers. He was accompanied by his father and a lawyer, Lawrence Lee. The other, in a blue and red hooded track suit, was accompanied by a social worker and a solicitor, Dominic Lloyd.

The boys spoke only to confirm names, ages and Liverpool home addresses during the six-minute hearing of the South Sefton juvenile court. No charges were put by Robert Watts, for the Crown Prosecution Service, but it was confirmed they are also accused of attempting to abduct another child.

During the hearing the boy in white stretched and yawned frequently, occasionally looking at his co-accused. The blue track-suited boy leaned forward, his chin in his hand, looking along the bench. Neither showed distress.

They were remanded until tomorrow week in the care of Sefton council social work department and will be held in secure accommodation outside the area. The Bulger family was represented in court by a solicitor. As the boys left in separate, windowless vans, a single shout of abuse sparked a crowd surge. Missiles, abuse and threats were hurled at the vans and police motorcycle escorts.

The Bulger family's pleas for calm were echoed after the disturbances by their MP, George Howarth. Most demonstrators deplored the scuffles, and one child was badly frightened. Police arrested seven people, including a boy of 15. Two were accused of public order offences, one facing the additional charge of criminal damage to a police van.