Boy in Bulger trial changed his story: Second child blames co-accused for abducting toddler. Jonathan Foster reports

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The Independent Online
A FLUENT capacity to lie sustained a 10-year-old boy through more than two hours of police questioning following his arrest for the murder of two-year-old James Bulger, Preston Crown Court was told yesterday.

Then, during his fifth interview, he cried: 'I never touched a baby.'

The boy sobbed, abandoning his narrative of a day spent shoplifting while playing truant with a friend, also aged 10. 'You're going to put me in jail for nothing,' he wailed. And he wept hysterically, telling his mother: 'I never touched him. I never killed him, mum.'

The boy, identified only as B, slumped in his seat in the dock as the jury listened to five interviews tape-recorded during two days at a police station. He heard his voice sobbing innocence, blaming his companion, boy A, for taking James from the Strand shopping centre, in Bootle, on 12 February.

The prosecution claims both boys had a fluent capacity to lie, blaming each other for the abduction and murder of James on a railway track at Walton, Liverpool.

The pair plead not guilty to both charges, and deny the attempted abduction of another child.

Boy B's mother was not surprised when a police officer called early on 18 February. She had expected the police to see her son because of his truancy the previous Friday, 12 February. Instead, B was arrested for murder and abduction, and his mother was to be present during his first five interviews with detectives.

In the interviews, B tells police he has been bullied at school. He became friends with A and played truant with him on a few occasions. 'But I don't want to play with him now.' A is too naughty, plays truant more often, and steals sweets and toys, said B. He does things with A that he would be too scared to do on his own.

The police asked: 'So, as long as he's with you for a bit of courage, you'll go along with what he does, and have a little go yourself?' B replied: 'Yeah.'

He claimed he did not want to 'sag off' school on 12 February. 'I wanted to take the gerbils home.' Mrs B explained: 'I gave him a letter to bring the gerbils home for the holiday.' But neither A nor B entered school. They wandered the streets, visting shops, B said. They stole paint. A threw some over B's coat and trousers, 'And I said to him me mum's going to kill me.'

In the third interview, late on 18 February, detectives put a little pressure on him, reminding him not to tell lies. 'You think I've killed the kid,' B said.

His mother told him not to get upset, but he cried and cried, and he claimed they did not even go to the Strand precinct that day.

Then boy B changed his story. They were there. His mother became cross. B wept, insisted they were shoplifting and he thought if he admitted being at the Strand, his mother would think he had killed the baby.

He became distressed, at times hysterical during the fifth interview, given on 19 February. The jury could hear B crying inconsolably, admitting that A had taken the baby, but abandoned him.

James had been 'just walking round on his own'. Boy A did not harm the child. 'You wouldn't do that to a boy, would you?' Mrs B said. Her son continued to cry. 'I want to go home. I've already told youse what I know,' he said. Then he asked to be left alone with his mother and solicitor, and the police ended the interview.

The trial continues today.

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