Police decoy helps murder case boys to avoid crowds

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(First Edition)

A CROWD of 100 people gathered outside a Merseyside court yesterday as two 10-year-old boys were brought back before magistrates accused of murdering two-year-old James Bulger.

The boys were remanded in custody until 12 March into local council care during an eight-minute appearance before magistrates in Bootle.

They were then smuggled out of the building in a police decoy operation, being driven away in unmarked cars with blankets over their heads. Outside the main entrance, where two police vans and motor-cyclists had drawn up, the crowd reacted angrily when Superintendent Paul Burrell announced that the boys had already left the building.

Officers then mingled with the crowd, asking people to move on. Police were anxious to avoid the ugly scenes when the two boys made their first appearance in court 10 days ago. Then, seven people were arrested as the boys were driven from court.

The accused had been brought to the building yesterday in separate police vans from secure units in different parts of Britain.

In court they spoke only to give their names and ages. One, with close cropped hair, said 'Pardon?' when asked his name and the clerk repeated the question.

Neither boy showed any obvious signs of fear, distress or anxiety during the brief hearing and both were remanded into the care of Liverpool City Council until 12 March.

Chairman of the magistrates, Jim Dixon, formally adjourned the case until that date.

Defence lawyers did not oppose the prosecution's applications and reporting restrictions were not lifted.

The charges were not read out in court. Both boys are accused of the abduction and murder of James and the attempted abduction of another two-year-old boy.

James disappeared while shopping with his mother Denise, 25, at Bootle's Strand shopping centre last month. His badly mutilated body was discovered two days later on a railway track in Walton, Liverpool.

His funeral was held at the Church of the Sacred Heart in his home town of Kirkby, near Liverpool, on Monday.