Jon Venables release: James Bulger's father 'bewildered'

Denise Fergus: "I totally do feel let down, but more importantly I feel like I've let James down because all the fight that I've done over the past 20 years"

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The lawyer representing James Bulger's father has demanded an explanation for the decision to release one of his son's killers from prison.

The Parole Board confirmed Jon Venables is to be re-released 20 years after the murder of the Merseyside toddler.

Solicitor Robin Makin said Ralph Bulger was "bewildered" as no reasons had been given.

Life offenders can be released once the board is satisfied they can be safely managed, the Ministry of Justice said.

Mr Makin said they had suggested to the parole board that Venables "should live securely on an Army base" but there was no indication whether this would be implemented.

'Daily nightmare'

He said it was "quite astonishing" the parole board had not given its reasons and called on Justice Secretary Chris Grayling to review the decision.

He added the decision continued the "daily nightmare" for James's father and described the parole decision as "reckless."

Start Quote

I totally do feel let down”

End Quote Denise Fergus James Bulger's mother

Venables was recalled to prison for accessing child pornography, nine years after his release on licence for the 1993 murder, with Robert Thompson, of two-year-old James.

The two 10-year-olds lured the toddler out of a shopping centre in Bootle. He was taken to a railway line and beaten with bricks and iron bars.

Venables was recalled to custody following his child pornography arrest in 2010 and Mr Makin questioned whether anything had changed since 2011, when the Parole Board decided not to free Venables.

"It does make you wonder, has a leopard changed his spots?" Mr Makin added.

'Fundamental review'

The parole board confirmed it had decided to release Venables although it is not clear when this will happen.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the re-release of life-licensed offenders was directed by the independent Parole Board.

"Their life licence lasts for the rest of their lives, and they may be recalled to prison at any time for breaching their licence conditions," said a spokesman.

"Additionally, they will be subject to strict controls and restrictions for as long as their risk requires them."

Sean Sexton, the solicitor for James's mother Denise Fergus, said she had been given no reason for the decision.

"No-one in authority has responded to her concerns about Venable's track record... and the failures of the Probation Service to report those breaches in the past."

He said she believed there was a need for a fundamental review of the proceedings and she wanted the board to publish its reasons.

In an interview with Channel 5 News, Ms Fergus said: "I totally do feel let down, but more importantly I feel like I've let James down because all the fight that I've done over the past 20 years.

"I thought I was finally getting somewhere and for them to just push me off that cliff you know, I just can't believe how I'm getting treated and I don't know why they're treating me like this.

"I'm more fearing now that someone is going to mistake someone else as Venables and do someone who's innocent harm. That's my biggest fear now."

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