Agony for James Bulger’s family as Jon Venables’ parole decision is delayed – but he could still be released before Xmas | The Sun

JUSTICE chiefs have delayed a decision on child killer Jon Venables’ parole bid – sparking fears he could be freed just before Christmas.

The fiend – who abducted and murdered James Bulger, two, in 1993 with accomplice Robert Thompson – had a private hearing, starting on November 14.

It ended the same week, with a result expected 10 to 14 days later.

But Parole bosses now plan to reveal their verdict on whether he can be released in mid-December.

And it has sparked fears Venables, 41 – freed in 2001 but twice recalled to prison over child abuse images – could be freed during the quiet festive period.

A decision is now expected by December 15, and parliament breaks for Christmas four days later – returning on January 8.

Yesterday a source said: “James’ family are terrified of what this means.

“It is really irregular to take so long and they are worried Venables could be sneaked out when it is quiet before Christmas and parliament is not sitting.

“Normally his release would spark questions in the Commons but that wouldn’t happen if he comes out just before Christmas.

“The whole thing seems to have been skewed in his favour – including having the private hearing – and now they are taking ages to reach a decision.

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“It is worrying and very irregular, with the family being largely kept in the dark.”

We told earlier this month how Venables did not appear at his parole hearing – although it was held in private to protect his mental health.

Venables, whose identity would have been disguised, dodged cross-examination or hearing the impact statements of James’ separated parents Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger.

Ralph, 57 – who has warned Venables will kill again if released – slammed the move, which he branded “twisted”.

Last night a spokeswoman for Denise Fergus said: “We’ve been made aware that the parole decision, initially expected this week, will now be made in another two weeks.

“While this news is 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.

“Thank you for your understanding.”

Venables and Thompson were 10 when they snatched James from outside a butchers’ in a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside in 1993.

They tortured, stripped and killed the toddler, whose battered body was found two days later beside a railway line.

The killers stood trial at Preston Crown Court and were detained indefinitely – before being released in 2001 under new identities after eight years in young offenders’ institutions.

Thompson has not reoffended. But Venables has twice been recalled to prison – in 2010 and 2017 – for possessing child abuse images. On the second occasion he had a “paedophile manual”.

He was refused parole in 2020.

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