the venables

Robert Thompson and Jon Venables

In 1993, these two 10 year-old boys did the unthinkable. When they saw three year-old James Bulger walking with his mother in the mall, they grabbed him and led him away. They did all sorts of terrifying things to him: beat him, threw bricks at him, piled stones on his head, sexually violated him with batteries… Then, when they finally killed him, they left Bulger’s body on a set of train tracks to be cut in half. The poor boy had so many injuries that it could not be determined which was the cause of his death.

It’’s hard to imagine adults committing such a terrible crime, and yet Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were only 10 years old. They each, of course, blamed the other for the crimes and were eventually convicted. The were held for 8 years until their trial was deemed unfair. Then they were freed and granted lifetime anonymity so that they could not be tracked. 


On 12 February 1993, Denise Bulger temporary turned away from her 2-year-old son, James Bulger, while paying for something at the butchers in the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle. Little did she know, this would be the last time she would ever see her son alive. During this short space of time, 10-year-old Jon Venables and 10-year-old Robert Thompson, who were playing truant from school, had lured James away from his mother. The boys took little James on a 2.4 mile walk, during which he was abused endlessly - he was dropped, kicked, punched, and suffered bruising to the face. Many people saw the little boy, most didn’t bother to intervene, but the few that did were told by Venables and Thompson that James was their little brother and was crying because he did not want to go home. What happened next was abhorrent. The two boys led James to a railway where they proceeded to throw paint in his eyes, throw stones and rocks at him, beat him with a brick and then hit him with an iron bar. They shoved batteries into his mouth and it was rumoured, also into his anus. He suffered 42 injuries in total but it was undetermined which one was the fatal blow. After they became bored with torturing James they laid his body on the train track and left. It was determined James died before the train hit him, severing his little body in half.

Venables and Thompson were found guilty on 24 November 1993. They were sentenced to custody until the age of 18. They were released and given new identities. Venables was sent back to prison for violating the terms of his license of release. He was found guilty of possession and distribution of child pornography. He was released again in 2013.

Camera footage captures the moment two year old James Bulger is abducted by two ten year old boys from a shopping center in Merseyside, England,  on February 12 1993. James had been shopping with his mother when he became separated from her outside of a butchers shop, and lured away by Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, two delinquent children skipping school. They originally planned to take the trusting toddler outside the complex and push him in front if a car, but instead walked him to a railway yard where they administered a vicious beating to the defenseless child. Over a period of an hour they forced James to drink paint, threw bricks and stones at him, beat him with a piece of wood, stomped on his head, and hurled bricks at his body. When the child lost consciousness Thompson and Venables ripped off his clothes and placed him on a railway track, where he was bisected by a train. Afterwards they ran away, and gave weak explanations to their parents about the blood and paint on their shoes.

James was discovered the next day by a group of children who at first thought he was a discarded doll. An autopsy revealed dozens of separate injuries, mainly to the toddlers head. A small solace to his parents was the fact James passed away before being hit by the train.  

When the two ten year olds were arrested, there was a massive public outcry, and armed police had to be present at their hearings. Because of their ages, Thompson and Venables could not be tried as adults, and we’re instead detained at Her Majestys pleasure until they turned twenty one. Their lenient sentences have caused for a call in criminal reform in Britain, and the case remains on of the most heart rending in the country’s history. 

Police investigating the Jamie Bulger crime scene. Bulger was two years old when he was brutally tortured and murdered by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who were both only 10 years old at the time. The crime was a particularly sadistic one, they poured blue paint into the childs eye, they threw bricks at him, beat and stomped on him and inserted batteries into his mouth and anus. They then weighted him down on the train tracks ensuring that his body would be cut in half, in hopes his death would be ruled as an accident.

The child’s severed body was discovered two days after the crime. The pathologist was unable to determine which of the 42 injuries sustained was the fatal blow, but was able to say that he had died before the train had cut him in half.