1. ITV Report

Timeline of events following abduction of James Bulger

This is how events unfolded from the abduction of James Bulger to the conviction of his schoolboy killers - Jon Venables and Robert Thompson.

  • February 12 1993: Two-year-old James Bulger is snatched during a shopping trip to the Strand shopping centre, in Bootle, Merseyside.
James Bulger seen in 1993 being led away at a shopping centre in the Bootle area of Liverpool Credit: Press Association
  • February 14 1993: The toddler's battered body is found by children playing on a freight railway line 200 yards from Walton Lane police station, Liverpool, and more than two miles from the Strand shopping centre.
Forensic operation after a body was discovered Credit: Press Association
  • February 18 1993: Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both 10-year-olds, are arrested in connection with the murder of James, and later charged. They are the youngest to be charged with murder in the 20th century.
Robert Thompson and Jon Venables in police custody in 1993 Credit: Police
  • February 22 1993: There are violent scenes outside South Sefton Magistrates' Court in Bootle, when the two primary school pupils, then known as Child A and Child B, make their first appearance.
  • November 24 1993: Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, now both aged 11, are convicted of James Bulger's murder following a 17-day trial at Preston Crown Court. They are ordered to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure, the normal substitute sentence for life imprisonment when the offender is a juvenile.
  • July 1994: The eight year sentence tariff set by the trial judge, which has already been increased to 10 years by Lord Chief Justice Lord Taylor of Gosforth, is increased again to 15 years by the Home Secretary Michael Howard.
  • June 1997: The Law Lords rule by a majority that Mr Howard has acted illegally in raising the boys' tariff.
  • March 1999: The European Commission on Human Rights finds that Thompson and Venables were denied a fair trial and fair sentencing by an impartial and independent tribunal.
  • March 2000: Home Secretary Jack Straw says he will not set a date for Thompson and Venables' release.
  • October 2000: Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf reinstates the trial judge's original tariff, paving the way for their release
  • January 2001: James Bulger's killers win an unprecedented court order from High Court judge Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss which grants them anonymity for the rest of their lives.
  • June 2001: Thompson and Venables are freed under new identities.
  • September 2008: Venables is arrested on suspicion of affray after he and another man become involved in a drunken street fight. He is given a formal warning by the Probation Service about breaching the good behaviour expected of him as a condition of his licence.
  • Later the same year he is cautioned for possession of cocaine after he was found with a small amount of the class A drug, which was said to be for personal use. The public remains unaware of both offences until 2010.
  • March 2010: Venables is returned to prison after breaching the terms of his release, the Ministry of Justice says. It kick-starts frenzied media speculation over the nature of the alleged breach.
  • April 16 2010: Prosecutors handed a police file over the latest allegations.
  • June 21 2010: A judge at the Old Bailey lifts media restrictions, allowing it to be reported that Venables has been charged with downloading and distributing child pornography.
  • July 23 2010: Venables pleads guilty to the charges. He is sentenced to two years in prison. James Bulger's mother Denise Fergus attacks the length of sentence as "simply not enough".
Denise Fergus, the mother of James Bulger Credit: Press Association
  • July 30 2010: A judge rules Venables' new identity must be kept secret because of the "compelling evidence" of a threat to his safety, saying "unpopular" defendants had as much right to protection from retribution as anyone else.
  • April 26 2013: Two users of social media who breached the injunction banning the revelation of the new identities of Venables and Thompson receive suspended jail sentences.
  • July 4 2013: Jon Venables is granted parole.

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