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Notorious child killers: True crime stories

Updated on November 20, 2013

When Children Kill...

Murder is a shocking but thankfully relatively rare crime, and statistics suggest that murder rates are decreasing further in the UK due to improvements in policing, interview techiques and target harderning (for example the use of CCTV cameras). When a murder is committed by a child or young person under the age of 18, it is even rarer, and thus even more shocking and sensational. This artical explores one such shocking case - the tragic murder of two year old James Bulger.

Merseyside, North-West, England

Merseyside, UK

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The following map shows the Merseyside region of the North-West of England where the Bulger murder occurred.

CCTV from the day of the kidnapping and subsequent murder

lost innocence....
lost innocence.... | Source

1. The inexplicable murder of James Bulger

On a cold and rainy 12th February 1993 in my home town of Merseyside Liverpool, a crime occured which sent shockwaves around the world and changed the way people viewed childhood forever.

The story has become infamous and requires little re-telling. For those who remain unsure of the details, the following account will inform you of the tragic events that transpired on that bleak winter day.

Three year old James Bulger, often referred to as Jamie in the press, was shopping with his mother Denise in The Strand shopping centre near Bootle in Merseyside. Whilst Denise was momentarily occupied at the counter, her young son was led away by two young boys who subsequently tortured and murdered the little boy and left his body on a near-by railway line.

The discovery of the little boys body was shocking, but when the CCTV footage was examined, and witnesses were interviewed a darker more shocking secret was uncovered to the police - the little boys kidnapper, torturer and murderer was none other than two little boys.

This discovery was particularly shocking to the police, the community of Merseyside and the world at large. All conceptions of children as innocents were questioned and many people were outraged that such young boys could be capable of such a callous crime. There was a great deal of public outrage against the two young killers, but similarly many were begining to question why a child would be capable of killing another child.

The Bulger Killers

Venables and Thompson were charged with James Bulgers murder on 20th February 1993. They  appeared in Sefton Youth court two days later where they were remanded in custody prior to the trial which took place at Preston Crown Court.
Venables and Thompson were charged with James Bulgers murder on 20th February 1993. They appeared in Sefton Youth court two days later where they were remanded in custody prior to the trial which took place at Preston Crown Court. | Source

The Killers: Jon Venables and Robert Thompson

The two killers were found guilty of Bulgers murder on the 24th November 1993 - making them the youngest cnvicted murderers of the 20th century. The judge ruled that their names should be released and their police mugshots (previously the boys had been known as Child A and Child B).

The boys were sentenced to serve a minimum of ten years making them elligable to be released at age 20 in February 2003. Later pressures and applications for clemency meant that the boys served 8 years, being released in 2001.

During their detention Robert Thompson was held at the Barton Moss secure unit in Manchester, and Jon Venables was sent to Red Bank, a secure unit in St.Helens - the same facility where Mary Bell served half of her 12-year sentence.
Notes were made twice daily on the boys and each was reported to suffer from posttrauatic stress symptoms and nightmares, most especially Venables.

The boys were taught to lie about their names and true identities during their detention, upon their release they were provided with new identities and given certain conditions by which they must abide.

They must not:

contact each other

contact the Bulger family

May not visit the region of Merseyside

Curfews may be given to them, which they must follow, and report to probation officers when requested.

James Bulger's grave


Update: Jon Venables

On 02nd March 2010 Jon Venables was returned to prison for an undisclosed breach of his terms of release.

On 21st June 2010 Venables was again returned to prison on charges of downloading and sharing images of child abuse. It was revealed that prior to this arrest Venables had been living in Cheshire (a neighbouring county of Merseyside) and had been visiing the Merseyside area.

It was also revealed that Venables had been revealing his identity to a number of friends.

In September 2013 it was confirmed that Venables had been once again released...


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    • JG11Bravo profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow, how utterly horrifying. Still, thanks for sharing, it's an intriguing look in spite of the disturbing subject matter.

    • Shirley Anderson profile image

      Shirley Anderson 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Such an awful tragedy! I remember hearing about this on the news and being shocked, also terribly saddened at what little Jamie's parents must have gone through. I doubt very much that they can ever get the idea of their tiny son being tortured and killed out of their minds. My heart goes out to them.

      On the flip side, John Venables being on the loose is frightening, especially in light of the fact that it sounds as though he is obsessed with hurting children. Makes me wonder what he went through to become so warped.


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