Jon Venables: Sordid secret life of Bulger killer exposed
Venables is given two years in jail over child porn
Killer Jon Venables was jailed for two years yesterday after he admitted downloading pornographic images of toddlers.
Venables — who along with Robert Thompson battered and murdered two-year-old James Bulger — told officers he had enjoyed the images of abuse and said he was “breaking the last taboo”.
He even adopted an online alter ego as a married mother offering her daughter to a paedophile.
Venables and his friend Thompson were just 10 when they killed James in Bootle, Merseyside.
They were jailed for life in 1993 and given new identities when released on licence in 2001.
Extensive measures were taken to protect the pair from vigilantes and help them lead a normal life but after several years Venables descended into a spiral of drug addiction and drunken violence.
The 27-year-old appeared via videolink at the Old Bailey yesterday under unprecedented secrecy. Only the judge could see him.
Just four disembodied words were heard from the killer — answering “yes” to his name and pleading “guilty” to three charges concerning child pornography.
One charge related to downloading 57 images — some of children as young as two — between February 2009 and February 2010.
A second count related to a technical offence that three images were made available while being downloaded last February.
The third charge related to distributing images in February 2008 to convicted paedophile Leslie Blanchard, of Chelmsford, Essex.
James's mother, Denise Fergus, sat impassively in court wearing a ‘Justice for James’ badge as details of the crimes were read out. She condemned his sentence as “simply not enough”.
Speaking after the hearing, Venables' solicitor John Gibson said his client was “remorseful” and knows he has “badly let down” everyone who tried to help him.
The solicitor added: “He has said that every day since what took place in 1993 he has thought about how different life might have been.”
The court heard that, in September 2008, Venables was arrested on suspicion of affray after a drunken brawl.
Later the same year he was cautioned for possession of cocaine.
Mrs Fergus and her spokesman said they were “surprised and concerned” Venables had not been recalled for breaching his licence.
Last February Venables was arrested and recalled over child porn allegations. Evidence emerged that he had an “extensive history” of searching for indecent images of children via the internet.
In February 2008 he was posing as a married woman called Dawn (35) when he was in contact online with paedophile Leslie Blanchard.
Evidence from a laptop seized from Blanchard showed the two men had used Google Hello to send and receive messages — with Venables using his alter ego.
Louis Mably, prosecuting, said: “Dawn said she was interested in pictures of parents abusing their children. Dawn said she and her husband abused their daughter. Blanchard said he would like to meet their daughter and abuse her himself.”
Mr Mably said Blanchard gave a telephone number but Dawn broke off contact abruptly.
In February Venables contacted his probation officer, fearing his true identity had been discovered.
The officer arrived at his address and told him to collect his belongings, and he was found trying to delete files and to remove his hard drive with a tin opener.
Venables was taken to a police station with the machine. Mr Mably said: “A total of 57 indecent images of children were found.”
Eight of the images were at level four, the second most serious level — featuring sexual activity involving children, the court heard.
Two were at level three, three were at level two, and 44 at level one, the Old Bailey was told.
Sentencing Venables yesterday, Mr Justice Bean said that, as Venables was still on licence for the “horrific” murder of James, he would not be automatically released on serving half his two-year term. His release would be up to the parole board to decide.
He was also put on the sex offenders register for 10 years and banned from working with children for life.
Anthony Hudson QC, for the national media, said in court earlier that only allowing the judge to see Venables via videolink was a “very serious departure” from the principle of open justice.
But the judge said: “I do not see that it is an essential part of criminal proceedings that the public should be able to look at the defendant.”