Video link to Bulger murder disputed

AS ACCUSATIONS over the role of horror videos in violent crime mounted yesterday, senior Merseyside police discounted suggestions that they had influenced the murder of James Bulger.

Despite strong pressure from MPs for action, the Home Office responded cautiously to the statement by the James Bulger trial judge, Mr Justice Morland, that exposure to violent videos might have encouraged the actions of Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, the 11-year-olds jailed for the murder.

David Maclean, Minister of State at the Home Office, said the judge's comments would be closely studied but police had found no evidence linking the case with 'video nasties'. Britain had the tightest European laws on videos: 'We cannot see any other way we can make the laws any tighter . . . no matter how tightly Parliament may classify films, what you watch in your own home as viewers is the decision of parents and youngsters.'

But Mr Maclean fuelled the debate over juvenile crime by saying that churches had been 'strangely silent' over the issues of right and wrong. His comments were strongly rejected by church leaders.

Yesterday, the solicitor for Neil Venables, father of Jon Venables, denied the boy had watched an 18- certificate film his father had rented a month before. Child's Play 3 contains scenes in which an obsessed doll, Chucky, dies after being splattered with paint and having its face pulped; James Bulger was splashed with paint and battered to death.

British Sky Broadcasting yesterday cancelled a 10pm screening of the film tonight; it has shown the film twice recently. Ireland's largest video chain also withdrew the film from its shelves.

David Alton, Liberal Democrat MP for the Merseyside seat of Mossley Hill, who has tabled a Commons motion calling for more control over violent material, welcomed the decision to stop the screening: 'It is crucial that the nation searches its soul and asks how this kind of crime can happen.'

In the Commons, the Conservative MP Sir Ivan Lawrence QC called for action to curb 'the constant diet of violence and depravity' fed to youngsters through television, videos and computer pornography. Sir Ivan, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said it was becoming 'daily more obvious' that this was a major reason for the rise in juvenile crime.

The video furore surprised Merseyside senior detectives. One said: 'I don't know where the judge got that idea from. I couldn't believe it when I heard him.

'We went through something like 200 titles rented by the Venables family. There were some you or I wouldn't want to see, but nothing - no scene, or plot, or dialogue - where you could put your finger on the freeze button and say that influenced a boy to go out and commit murder.'

Police were also told that a Roald Dahl story, 'The Swan', available in Liverpool schools and libraries, foretold the death. In the story, two bullies abduct a younger child and drag him to a railway embankment where a train almost kills him and he is threatened with drowning. He eventually flies to safety.

Manchester Crown Court heard claims yesterday that the film was linked to the killing of Suzanne Capper, who was drugged, tortured and burnt alive last year. Bernadette McNeilly, one of five people charged with murder, was said by a co-defendant, Jean Powell, to have told Miss Capper that 'Chucky's gonna play' when injecting her with amphetamine.

Miss Powell, 26, told the jury: 'Chucky is Bernie. I had heard the word 'Chucky' on a rave tape and I have also seen the film about a doll that comes to life and kills people.'

Legacy of fear, page 2

Leading article, letter, page 17

Andrew Marr, page 19

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
film
Extras
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value
indybest

News
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Sport
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas