Jon Venables: James Bulger killer sentenced to 40 months for possessing indecent images of children for second time

Defendant pleads guilty to having more than 1,000 pictures and owning a child abuse manual

Tom Embury-Dennis
Wednesday 07 February 2018 11:20 GMT
James Bulger's mother says Jon Venables sentence a "farce"

James Bulger’s killer Jon Venables has been sentenced to 40 months in prison for having indecent images of children for a second time.

He pleaded guilty to having more than 1,000 pictures and also admitted via video link on Wednesday morning to having a child abuse manual.

Venables, who was released on licence in 2001 after serving eight years for the murder of two-year-old James, was returned to prison last November after he was caught with the pictures.

James’s mother Denise Fergus and father Ralph Bulger were at the Old Bailey to hear the latest guilty pleas.

In 2010, Venables pleaded guilty at the same court to charges of downloading and distributing child pornography and was jailed for two years.

In September 2008, he was arrested on suspicion of affray after a drunken brawl and was given a formal warning by the probation service.

Later the same year he was cautioned for possession of cocaine after he was found with a small amount of the class A drug.

Prosecutor Louis Mably QC told the court how Venables’ computer was seized in November last year.

Officers uncovered images of children mainly aged between six and 13, although some were younger. They found a paedophile manual aimed at teaching how to have sex with children “safely”.

As he was being taken to a police station, the court heard that Venables admitted he had “let people down”.

He said: “This is my own fault. I have let people down again. I have had stupid urges, inquisitive. I’m not going to be seeing this for a lot of years.

“It’s not going to be a slap on the wrist for me.”

Venables and his friend Robert Thompson tortured and killed James in Liverpool in 1993 when they were both aged 10.

They were granted lifelong anonymity with new identities when they were freed on licence.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a charity which tackles child sexual abuse images in the UK, said Venables’ guilty plea made clear “how easily offenders can access this content” and why it is vital that illegal images and videos are removed as quickly as possible.

“The work of the IWF has managed to reduce the proportion of these images hosted in the UK from 18 per cent in 1996 to less than one per cent today but this case only serves to highlight how important the fight against online child sexual abuse images is and how much more there remains to be done,” Susie Hargreaves, chief executive at IWF, said.

“It’s vital to remember that every one of these images is of a real child and every time someone views that image the child is revictimised again and again.”

Additional reporting by PA

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