Bulger killer Jon Venables bid for freedom before new law could block release

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Killer Jon Venables is making a fresh attempt to be released before law changes come into effect that could see his bid for freedom being blocked by ministers.

Jon Venables, who at the age of 10 was one of two boys who murdered two-year-old Jamie Bulger, is applying for parole ahead of new legislation that could give ministers the power to block the release of dangerous criminals for public safety reasons.

Venables, along with his accomplice Robert Thompson, was released in 2001 and given a new identity to enable him to live a normal life free from reprisals.

But he was jailed again in 2017 after he was found to be in possession of child abuse images. He was denied parole two years ago.

At the time, the Parole Board said there was still evidence that Venables showed an attraction to sexual violence and there was adequate justification for keeping him behind bars.

At the end of last month, Justice Secretary Dominic Raab announced a package of reforms designed to restore public confidence in the justice system, including a tougher Parole Board release test to ensure prisoners who are still thought to pose a risk are kept behind bars.

He said at the time: “Through our parole reforms, we will stand up for the rights of victims and make public safety the overriding factor in deciding on parole decisions.

“That’s why we are changing the criteria for release, putting more people with law enforcement experience on Parole Board panels, and adding a Ministerial check on release of the most serious offenders”.

  • Evil James Bulger killer Jon Venables to 'launch bid for freedom within weeks'

The bill could potentially give Mr Raab or his successors the final say on the release of over 600 prisoners a year. But it’s likely to take several months to make its way through Parliament.

Meanwhile, it has emerged, Venables had launched a fresh appeal for parole in February.

Officials have already contacted Jamie's family to ask them to submit new victim impact statements before the Board makes its decision.

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Jamie’s father Ralph told The Sun: “If the Justice Secretary is serious on reform then he must allow me to be present at Venables’ parole hearing, just as I was at his Old Bailey hearing.

“I want Venables to hear why I believe he should have his parole denied,” said Ralph, 55.

“For too long, victims and families have been ignored while authorities put the so-called rights of dangerous criminals first.”

  • Jon Venables
  • Crime
  • Prison News
  • James Bulger

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