On the 12th of February 1993, a woman is desperately searching for her two year old son who was left playing outside the butchers in a busy shopping mall. She had only been in the shop for a matter of moments and had only taken her eyes off her son to pay for her goods.
As she scans the shopping centre with her eyes she grows more and more concerned as her little boy was no where to be found. He was gone.
The little boy was James (Patrick) Bulgar. Born on the 16th of March 1990 he lived with his parents and siblings in Kirkby, Merseyside.
The Police begin their search. As the search widens all hope slowly diminishes for James and his family. Meanwhile, Police investigators seize CCTV footage from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, which would reveal Jame’s last known movements. James hadn’t simply wondered off as first suspected.
James had been taken by the hand and led off to his death. His family would never see him again.
Two days later Police receive a report of a small body that had been found on the railway not far from where James was taken. As they arrive on the scene the officers couldn’t believe their eyes. A small body had been left on the railway line where the morning train had severed it in half. They quickly realised this was the young child they had been desperately searching for. This was James Bulgar’s body.
James was naked from the waist down. His tiny shoes and socks dumped along the rails along with his trousers and underwear. His head was smashed in by bricks and a large metal pole. He had been sexually assaulted and had batteries forced up his anus. Finally he was left purposely across a rail. What monsters could do this to such a beautiful, happy little boy?
The Police were no longer dealing with a missing persons case. This was murder. A horrific murder of a young boy just shy of his third birthday.
CCTV from the shopping mall and surrounding areas had shown that James had been led off by the hand by two suspects. Following their movements the videos revealed that the suspects were young boys themselves, aged between eight to ten years old. It also revealed that they had attempted to kidnap another smaller child from the shopping centre but was unsuccessful.
The Authorities now had a strong lead. The investigations focus had moved to young boys who had not attended school that dark day. After questioning several local children the Police make two arrests. Ten year old Thompson and Venables. The boys were charged with the abduction and murder of James Bulgar on the 20th of February 1993, eight days after their horrific crimes.
At first the boys swore their innocence but soon broke down during Police questioning and quickly confessed to their crimes. They were sentenced to detention during Her Majesty’s Pleasure until a Parole Board decision in June 2001 recommended their release on a lifelong licence aged 18.
In 2010, Venables was recalled to prison for breaching the terms of his licence, and was released on parole again in 2013. And very recently in November 2017, Venables was again sent to prison for breaching his licence by possessing child abuse images on his computer. He was caught while attempting to destroy his hard drive but the files were recovered by the authorities. Both Jon and Robert have been given different identities in fear of public vengeance. People are demanding the identities of both murderers to be released to the public.
The case of James Bulgar has sparked massive debate about how young offenders, particularly murderers, are dealt with. One side believes in rehabilitation while the other side believe that they should never be freed and even sentenced to death. Today marks the 25 year anniversary of Jame’s death. What do you think about this case?