1. ITV Report

Suspended sentences for pair who breached ID ban on Bulger killers

Robert Thompson and Jon Venables the killers of toddler James Bulger Photo: Merseyside Police

Two users of social media who breached an injunction banning the revelation of the new identities of James Bulger's killers received suspended jail sentences today.

The nine-month terms, which were suspended for 15 months, followed action by Attorney General Dominic Grieve against Dean Liddle and Neil Harkins, who put photos on Twitter and Facebook respectively in February this year, two days after the 20th anniversary of the toddler's murder, which purported to depict Jon Venables and Robert Thompson as adults.

Sir John Thomas, President of the Queen's Bench Division, and Mr Justice Tugendhat said that Liddle, of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, and Harkins, of Bridlington, East Yorkshire, knew what they were doing was wrong and it was no excuse that others were doing it

The pair admitted breaching a January 2001 injunction, binding on the whole world, imposed before Venables and Thompson were released, which prohibits the solicitation or publication of any information purporting to identify their physical appearance, whereabouts, movements or new identities.

Mr Grieve said the public interest required its enforcement to mitigate the "very real risk of serious physical harm or death" to anyone who might be identified, whether correctly or incorrectly, as being either of the killers.

The Attorney General said after the ruling: "An internet posting takes seconds but can have major consequences.

"These people were fully aware that there is an injunction in place which prevents publication of any images or information claiming to identify anyone as Jon Venables or Robert Thompson, yet they carried on.

"It has been in place for many years and applies to both media organisations and individuals.

"It is irrelevant whether the postings in this case were of who they claimed to be.

"The order is meant not only to protect Venables and Thompson but also those members of the public who have been incorrectly identified as being either of them."