Painful memories will be evoked this week as the 20th anniversary of the murder of James Bulger brings his tragic death back into the public consciousness.
James was only two years’ old when he was abducted from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle by 10-year-olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson on February 12th 1993.
The boys were seen on CCTV leading the toddler out of the shopping centre, and took him for a 2.5 mile-long walk to Walton where they brutally beat and tortured him, before murdering him.
His body was found on a railway-line two days after, sparking public anger in Liverpool and shock around the world.
Venables and Thompson became the youngest people in the 20th Century to be charged with murder. They were convicted and sentenced to a minimum of ten years but the pair were released as 18-year-olds with new secret identities in 2001.
The pair are prohibited from contacting each other, Bulger’s family, or visiting the Merseyside region. However, it has been claimed that Venables broke his parole condition by drinking in the city centre and attending Everton matches at Goodison Park.
In March 2010, the Ministry of Justice revealed that Venables was again behind bars after the now 30-year-old was charged with possession and distribution of child pornography. He has now served his latest sentence, and can be released later this year.
Speaking to the Echo on the eve of the 20th anniversary, James’ mother Denise Fergus said of that fateful day: “I’d go back 20 years and say to myself ‘Don’t let go of his hand.'”
She added: “Neither Venables or Thompson should ever have been released and now I want Venables to stay where he is. I believe he is a great danger to the public. I’m determined to keep on fighting.
“We have always only wanted justice for James and if there is a fight to be fought for him then I’m there; he is my boy and if I can’t help him, then who will?”
After it emerged that Robert Thompson sued the News of the World for phone hacking, the James Bulger Memorial Trust set up an e-petition to prevent criminals to receive phone hacking compensation. The main aim for the memorial trust is to support young people who have become victims of crime, hatred or bullying.
Speaking on This Morning on ITV today, Mrs Fergus said: “I have moved on. I remarried and went on to have more kids. I can’t ever get away from that day. I will try my best tomorrow. With the help from [husband] Stuart, the boys and the family we get through it. I should not be grieving and marking the anniversary, but celebrate birthdays and Christmas with him.”
She revealed she is scared of her children leaving the city and possibly coming into contact with Thompson: “I’m afraid for them to go out of Liverpool, afraid they will bump into Thompson. We don’t know what they look like but they know what we look like.”
The family will mark the anniversary by going to the cemetery for a few hours, before going home, locking the door and watching a film together. “That makes me as happy as it’s possible for me to be,” Mrs Fergus told the Echo.