Parole decision for release of James Bulger's killer delayed

Jon Venables was 10 when he was convicted of murdering James Bulger. Credit: PA Images

The family of murdered two-year-old James Bulger are "grappling with heightened emotions" as the decision on the release of one of his killers is delayed by two weeks.

Jon Venables was jailed alongside Robert Thompson in November 1993 at the age of 10 after luring two-year-old James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, and brutally murdering him.

The pair were released in 2001 under new identities but Venables went back to prison in February 2010 and again in 2017 for indecent images of children on his computer.

Venables' two-day parole hearing took place behind closed doors on 14 and 15 November.

A decision is usually given around two weeks after the oral hearing has finished, but it has been delayed for another two weeks.

In a statement, a representative for the family said: “We have been made aware that the parole decision, initially expected this week, will now be made in another two weeks.

"While this news is undoubtedly frustrating for Denise and her family, we understand and appreciate the importance of adhering to procedural requirements in such matters.

“Denise and her family are grappling with heightened emotions and uncertainty.

"It is our sincere hope that, despite the delay, the parole board will carefully consider all relevant factors and make the decision that ensures the safety of the public, well-being of Denise and her loved ones- by not granting Jon Venables parole.

The Parole Board confirmed that the case had been adjourned, but has not given further details.

A spokesman said: “The Parole Board cannot comment on individual cases. A panel may adjourn a parole hearing to ensure a comprehensive risk assessment can take place.  

"There are a number of situations where an adjournment may be required, for example more information is required, the prisoner needs more time to complete a course, a witness is not available, or for some other unavoidable reason. The Parole Board does everything it can to avoid these delays.  

"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. 

"Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.” 

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To know...