Jon Venables charged with child porn offences

Jon Venables, one of the two boys convicted of murdering the toddler James Bulger, has been charged with downloading 57 child pornography images, it was revealed yesterday.

Venables, who has been given a new identity, is also charged with distributing seven of the images over the internet.

The alleged offences can be reported for the first time today after a judge lifted restrictions banning their publication. Venables, who was recalled to prison in February, will now appear at court via prison videolink on 23 July, where he will enter pleas to the two charges. In future court proceedings, Venables will be referred to by his old name. The offences, brought under the 1978 Protection of Children Act, each carry a maximum of 10 years in prison. But due to the terms of Venables' life licence, it is possible that, if convicted, he could face a significantly longer jail term.

The 27-year-old was convicted with Robert Thompson of the 1993 murder of two-year-old James, who was led away from a shopping centre in Liverpool by the older boys, who were both then aged 10. His dead body was later found on a railway track. The pair were released on licence in 2001 and were given new identities.

Venables was recalled earlier this year after breaching the terms of his release. Yesterday it was revealed that his alleged breach related to child pornography, as was widely speculated at the time.

He is charged with making 57 indecent photographs of children between 24 February 2009 and 23 February 2010. It is further alleged that between 1 February 2010 and 23 February 2010 he distributed seven of the images.



Video: Bulger killer on child porn charges

It was explained that the "making" in this instance related to downloading from the internet, and that the "distribution" involved making the images available for other users to download using peer-to-peer internet software, although it is unknown if anybody actually did so.

Gavin Millar QC, for the prosecution, told the court: "A man known as Jon Venables has been charged with two offences. The first charge relates to downloading images on to his own computer. The second covers distributing through the internet seven indecent images, photos of children, downloaded by him by exposing them for acquisition for finite periods to other internet users who may have searched for the photos and had the search terms that would have enabled them to access these photos.

"But there is no evidence in the Crown's case to suggest or establish that anybody did acquire them by that route."

Speaking after the details of the charges had been revealed in court, Robert Makin, a solicitor on behalf of James' father Ralph, said: "It is an enormous relief that the family of James Bulger is finally being told for the first time that the man who murdered James Bulger in 1993 has been charged with sexual offences."

Mr Makin added that the paternal family had been frustrated in their attempts to receive support from the police, prosecutors and the Ministry of Justice following Venables' recall to prison.

The solicitor said nobody had given them any details about the case but that the issue had been raised with the new Lord Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, and the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve.

James Bulger's mother, Denise Fergus, welcomed the decision. "It is right that the charges he faces should be made public," she said. "I have been kept informed, to an extent, about the legal proceedings in the case over the past few months, through the Ministry of Justice, the Merseyside Probation Service and, more recently, senior officers from Merseyside Police.

"My solicitor has also been in touch with the Ministry of Justice, to make representations on my behalf, and to raise a number of concerns that I have about the way the case is going to be handled.

"We are still awaiting a reply to that formal approach. I simply want to see justice done in this case and I don't want to say anything that could affect the proceedings. I'm prepared to wait and see what happens."

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?