Parole officers cleared in Venables porn case

A REVIEW cleared probation officers of failing to prevent one of Britain's most notorious murderers obtaining child porn while he was on parole for killing a toddler when he was aged just 10.

Jon Venables, who murdered two-year-old James Bulger in 1993 and is now 27, was jailed in July for collecting indecent images of children when he was supposedly being monitored.

A government-ordered review into his supervision concluded yesterday that probation officers could have done little to stop him, according to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.

However, it found he could have been given more therapy and more help to improve his employment prospects after being released in 2001.

Review author David Omand, a former civil servant, “concluded that Venables alone is responsible for his further offence and it could not have been prevented or predicted by any reasonable supervision”, Clarke said.

Venables and Robert Thompson, who was also 10 at the time, were given life sentences for killing Bulger in 1993.

In a murder that shocked the nation, they snatched the toddler from a shopping centre in Liverpool, took him to a nearby train track and beat him with bricks and an iron bar and left him for dead.

The pair were released on licence in 2001 and, amid public outrage over the killing, were given new identities for their own safety. They disappeared from public view but were still monitored.

Venables resurfaced in February after being caught with indecent pictures of children on his computer. He pleaded guilty to three charges at a London court earlier this year and was sentenced to two years in jail.

Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, rejected the sentence as “simply not enough”, although the judge in the case said that after serving his time, it would be up to a parole board to decide if Venables would be released.

Meanwhile, it emerged that the father of James Bulger was not told the detailed review into the post-release supervision of Venables was about to be made public.

Labour’s George Howarth said his constituent, Ralph Bulger, only found out about yesterday’s report when he was contacted by the media for his views on it.

He said Bulger “knew nothing” about the review of the supervision and offending behaviour of Venables.

Policing Minister Nick Herbert said “appropriate arrangements” should have been made and he would be looking into the matter.

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