Wednesday 9pm – 10pm, Channel 5
It’s been twenty-five years since the shocking, sickening headline that made not only parents but an entire nation horrified. How could two ten-year-old boys torture and murder a completely innocent and beautiful young boy? The two had been truant from school that day, causing mischief through shoplifting, but the pair were also callously planning something far more sinister, CCTV caught them looking at children, selecting a target and in broad daylight, the two boys lured James Bulger from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle after his mother momentarily took her eyes off of him, something every parent does. The pair took little James on a meandering 2.4 mile walk before assaulting him by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, they then took him to a disused railway and committed a series of heinous, cowardly and despicable acts that killed poor James. Some thirty eight people saw the boys walking with James, yet only two queried the pair and were given excuses.
The criminal process imposed at the time on the killers, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, led to widespread criticism and questions about fairness of the justice system. The case was unique, the police were astonished by the young age of the boys, the CCTV footage led them to believe the suspects were at least teenagers. Forensic evidence found on the boys clearly linked them with the crime – blue paint found on James was found on their clothing, DNA matched from Thompson’s shoes and Venables shoes matched an imprint on James.
The pair were tried in Preston Crown Court as adults for murder, which received heavy criticism from the European Court of Human Rights. The boys were convicted of the murder of James Bulger on 24th November 1993 and sentenced to a minimum of 8 years, this was reviewed and upped to 10 years before a campaign by The Sun newspaper saw that raised to 15 years. The House of Lords overthrew this increase in later years, describing it as a ‘national vengeance’. The trial allowed the minors to be named in the public interest and demonstrated that children could be tried as adults when they unequivocally knew right from wrong, yet no reason or evidence was given by the boys for why they did what they did. However, the boys achieved a right to anonymity on eventual release from jail.
Channel 5 digs deeper into this atrocious crime, comprising testimony and evidence from people who dealt with the pair at the time, as well as those who knew them closely, offering an insight into some shocking revelations. There is also new evidence and interviews with those directly involved in the case. This documentary delves into the new evidence, attempting to bring a full, complete picture into why two 10 year old boys could commit something so barbaric and evil.
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