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James Bulger's mum will meet Justice Secretary in fight to stop killer's release

By Ben Griffiths

The mum of tragic James Bulger has been granted a face-to-face summit with Justice Secretary Dominic Raab in her fight to keep one of his killer’s behind bars.

In a victory for The Sunday People, Mr Raab this week agreed to meet Denise Fergus, who will urge him to intervene in a parole ­hearing for Jon Venables.

Venables, now 39 – one of the two 10-year-olds who savagely killed two-year-old James – has reoffended twice before on release.

Mr Raab’s offer came after Denise, 53, appealed two weeks ago in this paper for an urgent meeting in a bid to ensure Venables is not set free again this summer.

Denise also told how she has been working on a new witness impact statement to be handed in tomorrow, ahead of Venables’ hearing.

James Bulger was tragically murdered in 1993 by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson (Press Association)

After learning of the meeting, she said: “We’re delighted Dominic Raab has agreed to meet us face-to-face to understand how important it is that my son’s killer is kept behind bars.

“We urge him to do everything in his power to intervene and prevent other families potentially suffering at his hands.”

Confirmation of the meeting came after the Sunday People contacted the Ministry of Justice this week. On Tuesday, the Queen’s Speech laid out plans in a draft Victims’ Bill for senior Government officials to wade in on parole hearings for the worst offenders.

But Denise fears any new law will come too late to quash twisted Venables’ hearing, set for August. Mr Raab, who is also Deputy Prime Minister, has previously stated his desire to overhaul the parole system to allow a ministerial veto.

Denise also hopes to discuss her 214,000-signature petition calling for a public inquiry into James’s death.

Jon Venables, who was 10 when he killed James (PA)

She added: “I really hope he realises the importance of meeting us. We welcome the news that the draft Victims’ Bill should include a right to block high risk offenders getting parole.

“But we need action now, rather than drafts, proposed legislation or laws for the future. We need intervention before it’s too late for James’s killer.”

Venables and fellow truant Robert Thompson snatched James from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993 after Denise let go of his hand for seconds.

Justice Secretary Dominic Raab will meet Denise (Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Convicted of murder and ordered to be detained indefinitely, they were freed in 2001 with new identities, aged 18.

Thompson has not reoffended but Venables was sent back to jail in 2010 and 2017 after child sex abuse images were found on his computer.

He was turned down for parole in 2020 but has made a new bid for release.

In her heartbreaking letter to Mr Raab, seen by the Sunday People, Denise wrote: “James was brutally murdered in 1993 by Robert Thompson and Jon Venables. I strongly believe if he [Venables] is released another family will live the nightmare myself and my family have for 30 years. I believe he’s still a danger.”

An MoJ spokesman said: “The Deputy Prime Minister will do everything in his power to keep dangerous offenders behind bars. He looks forward to meeting Ms Fergus in the coming weeks.”

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Dive Deeper:
James Bulger's mum to meet Dominic Raab in bid keep Jon Venables behind bars
Denise Fergus may submit a fresh victim impact statement ahead of parole hearing
'There were many failures during pandemic - but some Covid truths need no inquiry'
In the pandemic there were, of course, brief glimpses of hope – the furlough, the vaccine rollout, the applause for…
Fears 'Black Widow' murderer 'may strike again' as she's prepared for release
Dena Thompson, 61, is serving a life sentence for murder after hiding anti-depressants in second husband Julian Webb’s curry at…
Vettel tells young offenders they could get jobs in Formula One
FI driver Sebastian Vettel said that ‘prejudice’ against their criminal records should not stop them from working in F1.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
More offenders likely to be jailed with therapeutic court list full
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Serial killer Levi Bellfield’s prison marriage bid is ‘inconceivable’ – Raab
The 53-year-old wants permission to marry a woman while he is serving two whole life sentences for multiple murders.
Get all your news in one place