Details of Venables child porn offences emerge

Details of Venables child porn offences emerge

Images of children having sex were found on killer Jon Venables's computer when he left it at a police station amid fears that his true identity had been discovered, a court heard today.

Images found on Venables's computer involved children as young as two.

Venables, who was given a new name after being convicted of the murder of toddler James Bulger, feared his secret had got out and called a probation officer.

The 27-year-old was told to gather his belongings, and when the officer arrived he was trying to delete files from his computer and remove the hard drive.

He was taken to a police station with the machine and it was later examined by officers.

Louis Mably, prosecuting, said: "A total of 57 indecent images of children were found."

Eight of the images were at level four, the second most serious level - featuring sexual activity involving children, Mr Mably said.

Two were at level three, three were at level two, and 44 at level one, the Old Bailey was told.

Venables, who appeared in court via videolink today but in a highly unusual move could be seen only by the judge, Mr Justice Bean, pleaded guilty to three charges in relation to child pornography.

He spoke only to confirm his name and plead guilty to each count. It was the first time he had appeared in court since being recalled to prison in February.

The first offence involved downloading 57 pornographic pictures of youngsters on to his computer between February last year and February this year.

The second involved distributing indecent photographs of children in February this year, while a third involved distributing 42 images in February 2008.

Venables and his friend Robert Thompson were 10 when they killed two-year-old James Bulger in 1993.

They abducted him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, tortured and murdered him.

They were given life sentences but were released on licence in 2001 after being given new identities which were protected from being made public.

Nothing was known about their new lives until the police investigation into the downloaded images.

The court heard also about further brushes with the law since his release on licence.

In September 2008 he was arrested on suspicion of affray after he and another man became involved in a drunken street fight.

He was given a formal warning by the Probation Service about breaching the good behaviour expected of him as a condition of his licence.

Later the same year he was cautioned for possession of cocaine after he was found with a small amount of the class A drug, which was said to be for personal use.

The court was told Venables used Ares peer-to-peer computer software to download video images in February.

Mr Mably said the videos featured young girls, said to be around eight years old, touching themselves in a sexual way, being raped by adult males and being forced to perform oral sex.

He said the downloads could take days or even weeks and during that time the images were accessible to other Ares users.

Mr Mably said it was possible to restrict access to other users when downloading was complete but Venables had not chosen that option on one of the videos.

He said the computer's history of websites visited and searches made had "indicated the defendant had an extensive history of searching for and downloading indecent images of children using the internet".

Venables had tried to remove the computer's hard drive, he said, although he claimed he had been more anxious about his personal records being accessed.

The court heard that Venables admitted he had been sexually aroused by the images.

Venables said he considered it "breaking the last taboo", in a statement made to police in March.

But, interviewed by officers about a video involving an eight-year-old girl, he said he had "no intention" of having sex with a girl of that age.

One of the charges related to distributing child pornography to convicted Leslie Blanchard, from Chelmsford, Essex, in 2008.

Venables, in messages to Blanchard, claimed to be a 35-year-old married woman called Dawn who abused her eight-year-old daughter.

Mr Mably said Venables wanted Blanchard to send images of abuse to him but Blanchard wanted to abuse the girl himself.

Venables offered to sell access to the child during a series of messages between the pair and a price was agreed but Venables then broke off contact abruptly, saying Blanchard could not see the girl.

Information from a laptop seized from Blanchard was used in the case against Venables, Mr Mably said.

The two men had used Google Hello to send and receive messages in real time in February 2008, although Venables pretended to be Dawn Smith.

“Dawn said she was interested in pictures of parents abusing their children,” Mr Mably said.

“Dawn said she and her husband abused their daughter.

“Blanchard said he would like to met their daughter and abuse her himself.

“It appeared that Dawn agreed a price for selling her daughter for a few hours.”

Mr Mably said Blanchard gave a telephone number but “Dawn” broke off contact abruptly, telling him he would never meet or touch her daughter.

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