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Man spared jailed for Jon Venables tweets

Jon Venables Credit: ITV Granada

A man from Liverpool who tweeted images purporting to be of James Bulger's killer Jon Venables as an adult has been given a 14-month suspended prison sentence.

The term, suspended for 15 months, was handed down at London's High Court for a flagrant contempt of court on the part of 27-year-old security guard James Baines.

Baines, who is close to the Bulger family, will also have to pay £3,000 in costs.

He admitted disobeying an injunction binding on the whole world which prohibits the publication of any information purporting to identify the appearance, whereabouts, movements or new identities of Venables or Robert Thompson, who were convicted of the two-year-old's murder in November 1993.

It was made on the basis that the pair would face an acute risk of serious physical harm or death upon their release.

The case was referred by Attorney General Dominic Grieve after Baines put images purporting to identify Venables as an adult on his Twitter profile on February 14 this year - the 20th anniversary of the crime.

One image showed Venables in a school photograph as a child while below and alongside were different images of an adult male.

They were accompanied by the tweet: "Its on bbc news about the jon venables pic on twitter saying its been removed eerrm no it hasn't."

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Attorney General comments on Bulger killer ID breach

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."

  1. Juliet Bremner - ITV News Correspondent
  2. National

Nine month sentence due to 'gravity' of offence

Sir John Thomas sitting at the High Court ruled that the two men were in breach of the injunction and therefore in contempt of court.

Reflecting on the "gravity" of their offence he said they would be given nine months imprisonment but because of mitigating circumstances it would be suspended.

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  1. Juliet Bremner - ITV News Correspondent
  2. National

Tweets with 'Venables picture' removed after an hour

The images were posted by Dean Liddle at 1.42am and removed less than an hour later, after questions were raised that they may have got the wrong people. The Twitter profile of Liddle had 915 followers.

The conversation that followed on the social network site said that it might be Venables and Liddle responds: "I was passed these by a friend if there is doubt about it being him I will remove."

He had earlier said in response to suggestion that child killers should be locked up for life: "I don't think that all child killers should be but after release he was arrested for child porn so agree here."

  1. Juliet Bremner - ITV News Correspondent
  2. National

Pair 'tweeted pictures of Venables and Thompson'

The High Court has been told that Neil Harkins and Dean Liddle both breached an injunction put in place when Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were released from custody in order to protect their new identities.

Both posted pictures which purported to be of the two men, who were convicted as boys of killing the toddler James Bulger, on their Twitter sites.

They did this on 14th February, shortly after the 20th anniversary of James Bulger's death.

The court has been told by barrister Melanie Cumberland that the Attorney General brought the proceedings because of the strong public interest.

The importance is of protecting not just Venables and Thompson but anyone else who might correctly or incorrectly identified as them.

  1. National

'Innocent individuals may be wrongly identified'

A statement from Attorney General Dominic Grieve's office when the legal move against two men over information posted on social media sites in relation to the identity of James' Bulger's killers was announced said:

There are many different images circulating online claiming to be of Venables or Thompson; potentially innocent individuals may be wrongly identified as being one of the two men and placed in danger.

The order, and its enforcement, is therefore intended to protect not only Venables and Thompson but also those members of the public who have been incorrectly identified as being one of the two men.

The injunction applies to both media organisations and individuals.

  1. National

Two men to appear at High Court over 'Bulger killer pics'

High Court action is being taken today against two men over information posted on Facebook and Twitter in relation to the identity of James' Bulger's killers.

Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were jailed for life after they abducted and murdered two-year-old James in Liverpool in February 1993.

Released in 2001, an injunction made by a High Court judge prevents publication of any images or information purporting to identify anyone as Jon Venables or Robert Thompson.

  • If a picture claims to be of Venables or Thompson, even if it is not actually them, there will be a breach of the order and that person could face a prison sentence or a fine
  • Details of the new identities of Venables and Thompson or their whereabouts is also prohibited
  • Internet material is covered by the order
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