James Bulger killer Jon Venables could be freed after being granted parole hearing

Jon Venables, alongside Robert Thompson, was ten years old when he tortured and murdered the two-year-old in Bootle.

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James Bulger‘s killer Jon Venables has been granted a parole hearing, which could see the now 40-year-old freed from prison.

Jon Venables, alongside Robert Thompson, was ten years old when he tortured and murdered the two-year-old, in Bootle, in February 1993.

The two boys took Jamie from the New Strand Shopping Centre and performed violent acts on the toddler, before ultimately killing him. The brutality of the murder shocked the nation, with James’ body being found on a railway line in Walton.

Venables and Thompson served eight years in childrens’ units and were released on license, with lifetime anonymity. Venables, however, has returned to prison twice for breach of license and images of child abuse, where he remains. His case last went before the Parole Board in 2020 and was rejected due to risk factors such as ‘his sexual interests and an attraction to sexual violence.’

Venables has now been granted a parole hearing, set to take place in November.

A spokesman for the Parole Board said: “Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

“A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.”

“Members read and digest hundreds of pages of evidence and reports in the lead up to an oral hearing. Evidence from witnesses including probation officers, psychiatrists and psychologists, officials supervising the offender in prison as well as victim personal statements are then given at the hearing.

“The prisoner and witnesses are then questioned at length during the hearing which often lasts a full day or more. Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.”

The hearing is scheduled for November 14 and 15, with a decision regarding his freedom expected within the following 14 days.

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