Jon Venables: James Bulger murderer to make parole bid

Image source, Merseyside Police
Image caption,
Jon Venables was given a new identity

One of James Bulger's killers is to have his case for release from prison considered by a Parole Board.

Jon Venables is serving a 40-month sentence after being returned to jail in 2017 for breaching his licence.

James, two, was tortured and killed by Venables and Robert Thompson, both aged 10 at the time, after the pair snatched him from a shopping centre in Bootle in 1993.

Both boys were jailed for life but released on licence in 2001.

They can be recalled to jail at any time if they breach the conditions.

Venables, now 36, was sent back to prison in 2010 and again in 2017 for possessing indecent images of children.

Coronavirus backlog

He passed the half-way mark of his most recent sentence in October.

The Parole Board confirmed it was determining whether a hearing needed to take place to decide if he should be released.

There is a suspected monthly backlog of more than 1,000 cases due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Efforts are being made to conduct remote hearings or decide cases "on paper" by considering documents where possible.

But the board is reluctant to determine certain cases - like those involving murderers, violent and sex offenders and terrorists - without a face-to-face hearing so these will most likely be delayed.

If there is no doubt that Venables should remain in jail, the case will be decided on paper.

But if there is any uncertainty, a hearing will need to take place to consider whether he presents a risk to the public should he be released.

The decision on how to proceed is likely to take several weeks

Venables and Thompson were given new identities upon their original release.

Reporting restrictions mean that Venables' current name, or anything else that could lead to his identification, will remain secret when his case is heard.

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