Bulger jury 'must decide intention of defendants': Judge gives detailed review of Crown's allegations on 16th day of murder trial

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THE JURY in the James Bulger murder trial was told yesterday that it did not matter who inflicted the fatal blow if it was sure both boys charged with his murder meant to do him serious injury.

Mr Justice Morland told jurors: 'You may think the evidence is overwhelming that James Bulger was unlawfully killed and whichever of the defendants it was who inflicted those injuries intended either to kill James Bulger or do him really serious injury.'

The judge was summing up on the 16th day of the trial at Preston Crown Court of two 11-year-old boys who deny the abduction and murder of James, and the attempted abduction of another boy.

Yesterday the jurors heard the judge give a detailed review of the Crown's allegations that the boys - named in court only as Child A and Child B - took James from the Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, Merseyside, and led him to a railway track in Walton, Liverpool, where they battered him to death.

The judge said that in deciding if the boys knew that killing James was seriously wrong, the jury would take into account the number of blows and the weapons used, the moving of his body from one line to another and the removal of his lower clothing.

He reminded the court of the evidence that both boys had kicked James. Both had no abnormality of mind, were of average intelligence and were attending a Church of England primary school where they were taught the difference between right and wrong.

'You will take into account the age of their victim, two, coming up to three. This was not a single throwing of a stone or brick, but involved a number of blows and a number of blows to the skull of a two, nearly three year-old little boy.

'You will consider why James Bulger was stripped of his shoes, socks, trousers and underpants when he was attacked, why the body was moved from one part of the track near the wall to the other line. Was that to suggest that the child had been subject to some form of assault, possibly by an adult, and then run over by a train? Was that to conceal, or attempt to conceal, the true cause of death?'

The judge advised the jurors: 'The crucial question is not what was their intention when James Bulger was taken from the Strand or during the long walk of over two miles to the railway line but what was the intention of each defendant on the railway line when the fatal injuries were inflicted.'

He went on: 'You may think that the evidence is overwhelming that James Bulger was abducted and that both defendants were involved physically in taking James Bulger from the Strand precinct to the railway line.

'You may also think that by the conclusions of their separate interviews each defendant had admitted the abduction of James Bulger.'

He said there was no dispute that the injuries inflicted on James were unlawful or that blows to his skull caused his death.

'You may think the evidence is overwhelming that James Bulger was unlawfully killed and whichever of the defendants it was who inflicted those injuries intended either to kill James Bulger or to do him really serious injury.'

But to find both boys guilty, the jury would have to be sure that, whichever boy inflicted the injuries, both of them intended at that time that James should be killed or should suffer really serious harm.

The judge reminded the jury of the 'untruths' the boys told in their police interviews, and asked: 'Did they lie because of the fear of being charged with the offence of murder, or because of their realisation of their guilt and because they knew what they had done was really seriously wrong?'

He added that he was sure each juror would assess the evidence objectively and would 'not allow your emotions to warp your judgement'.

The case was adjourned until today, when the jury is expected to retire after further summing up from the judge.