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Old 15-02-2013, 02:32
Aye Up
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Every so often this case rears its head with some very strong and quite emotional views. What I feel a lot of people lack is perspective about this case. What Thompson and Venables did was horrific by any measure, and at the same time sad. I am currently having quite a strong debate with some people on twitter at the moment, and some people even think the two should have been killed or hanged when they reached 18. When I look back I question or wonder what does a person convicted of a crime have to do to have served a "just" sentence. Initially they were detained at HM Pleasure, further to a review from the ECHR and our own Chief Juctice their sentence was reduced. Now whether you do or don't agree with earlier rulings and subsquent ones since, in the eyes of the law justice was served and the two indviduals were given parole with lifetime control orders.

Naturally we now find ourselves in the era of Socia Media where a widely circulated picture purporting to be Jon Venables is now reaching peoples monitors. I admit I have looked at said picture purely out of curiosity, but wonder what if this is the wrong person? We are now facing a trial by media and the court of public opinion, which really does concern me about the future of Judge, Jury and the right to a fair trial.

When I say some people lack perspective, they forget that when the horrific even occurred, both the offenders were children who were barely over the age of responsibility. I have know doubt what they did they knew was wrong, but I sincerely believe they wouldn't have comprehended the consequences that would soon follow that awful murder. I still believe they shouldn't have been tried as adults in an adult court, this was wrong from the outset. The case is a reminder of Mary Bell from the late sixties, similar situation however she murdered another child. However she was convicted with dminished responsibility, later shown to have symptoms of psychosis. I believe if someone like to correct me a campaign was run by some tabloids on the continent and over here to have her released as some felt the sentence was over zealous. As we all know she was released and the circus that followed.

The same happened with these two individuals new identities, everything. Where do we draw the line regarding the journey someone travels from criminal punishment to rehabilitation and no longer being a danger to society? Looking objectively, this case caught the nations attention is such a way I doubt these two could ever live out their lives free from vigilantes or lynch mobs. I certainly believe in retrospect the sentence they were given I feel was proportionate given their age and also the background behind their upbringing.

What I find remarkable is some people label these two as serial killers, true heathens of society who pre planned the murder and what they were going to do. When I look back through document evidence and testimony nowhere is it spoken of it being a pre meditated act against Bulger. It has been established they came from damaged homes, abusive parents and so on. We have seen time and again what happens to children on the fringes of society, invariably they become involved in crime or in this case murder.

My point in all of this is everything is always based on emotive opinion rather than fact. We have to accept that both UK and European legal systems agreed the two offenders were given and served an appriopriate sentence. Ignoring the crimes that Venables has commited since (Yes I know they are shockng), I ask when does a person get to a point when it is seen as they have served a sentence and get to walk free? It seems these two are condemned for life, when we consider other children who have commited burglary and violent assault are allowed to put the past behind them when they reach adult age.
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Old 15-02-2013, 02:41
motsy
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Naturally we now find ourselves in the era of Socia Media where a widely circulated picture purporting to be Jon Venables is now reaching peoples monitors. I admit I have looked at said picture purely out of curiosity, but wonder what if this is the wrong person? We are now facing a trial by media and the court of public opinion, which really does concern me about the future of Judge, Jury and the right to a fair trial.
The recent JS saga and resulting media witch hunt already turned into a trial by media which formed peoples' opinions (not mine) but in the eyes of the newspapers thre's only one final verdict - GUILTY (without it actually coming to a proper legal trial overseen by offically appointed legal authorities.
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Old 15-02-2013, 07:01
anais32
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A man has just been found guilty of the manslaughter of his five month old baby through violent shaking. The baby's injuries included bleeding behind the brain, detached retina and other bruising on the body. He was sentenced to 9 years. That's 4.5 years in custody and 4.5 years on license.

I bet without googling, no-one would know who he is.

But Thompson and Venables - everyone's favourite 'devil children' - totally different story.
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Old 15-02-2013, 07:22
towers
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I'm in two minds about this, on the one hand I knew at 10 years of age that killing someone was very wrong and would get you sent to prison, on the other hand I didn't have the poor upbringing those two boys had and no doubt had they been brought up the same way I was they probably wouldn't have killed anyone. They deserved a second chance after their initial imprisonment.
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Old 15-02-2013, 07:23
towers
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Every so often this case rears its head with some very strong and quite emotional views. What I feel a lot of people lack is perspective about this case. What Thompson and Venables did was horrific by any measure, and at the same time sad. I am currently having quite a strong debate with some people on twitter at the moment, and some people even think the two should have been killed or hanged when they reached 18. When I look back I question or wonder what does a person convicted of a crime have to do to have served a "just" sentence. Initially they were detained at HM Pleasure, further to a review from the ECHR and our own Chief Juctice their sentence was reduced. Now whether you do or don't agree with earlier rulings and subsquent ones since, in the eyes of the law justice was served and the two indviduals were given parole with lifetime control orders.

Naturally we now find ourselves in the era of Socia Media where a widely circulated picture purporting to be Jon Venables is now reaching peoples monitors. I admit I have looked at said picture purely out of curiosity, but wonder what if this is the wrong person? We are now facing a trial by media and the court of public opinion, which really does concern me about the future of Judge, Jury and the right to a fair trial.

When I say some people lack perspective, they forget that when the horrific even occurred, both the offenders were children who were barely over the age of responsibility. I have know doubt what they did they knew was wrong, but I sincerely believe they wouldn't have comprehended the consequences that would soon follow that awful murder. I still believe they shouldn't have been tried as adults in an adult court, this was wrong from the outset. The case is a reminder of Mary Bell from the late sixties, similar situation however she murdered another child. However she was convicted with dminished responsibility, later shown to have symptoms of psychosis. I believe if someone like to correct me a campaign was run by some tabloids on the continent and over here to have her released as some felt the sentence was over zealous. As we all know she was released and the circus that followed.

The same happened with these two individuals new identities, everything. Where do we draw the line regarding the journey someone travels from criminal punishment to rehabilitation and no longer being a danger to society? Looking objectively, this case caught the nations attention is such a way I doubt these two could ever live out their lives free from vigilantes or lynch mobs. I certainly believe in retrospect the sentence they were given I feel was proportionate given their age and also the background behind their upbringing.

What I find remarkable is some people label these two as serial killers, true heathens of society who pre planned the murder and what they were going to do. When I look back through document evidence and testimony nowhere is it spoken of it being a pre meditated act against Bulger. It has been established they came from damaged homes, abusive parents and so on. We have seen time and again what happens to children on the fringes of society, invariably they become involved in crime or in this case murder.

My point in all of this is everything is always based on emotive opinion rather than fact. We have to accept that both UK and European legal systems agreed the two offenders were given and served an appriopriate sentence. Ignoring the crimes that Venables has commited since (Yes I know they are shockng), I ask when does a person get to a point when it is seen as they have served a sentence and get to walk free? It seems these two are condemned for life, when we consider other children who have commited burglary and violent assault are allowed to put the past behind them when they reach adult age.
You can't compare burglery with killing a small child.
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Old 15-02-2013, 07:40
Cally's mum
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What a reasoned and thought-provoking post, OP.

I have taken part (for my sins) in the recent threads which have been running regarding James Bulger. A lot of it has been reasoned debate and interesting facts (not just about the case, but about the laws of this country, from someone who knows about it).

Unfortunately, there have also been the 'hysterical few' who have been a part of the 'hang 'em high' brigade (mostly now 'on holiday') who attempted to take the discussion off course and focus on pedantry or emotive words.

There have been other murders both before and since this one. Some of them even more horrific in nature; committed against both children and adults. James suffered sustained abuse at the hands of these two children (who, as you say, would have known right from wrong, but would not had any concept of the implications of their actions. Children mature at different ages and background can certainly have an effect on that development. I have also been wondering recently if anything was discovered about their actual development? I do know that there was an abusive element to their own lives, but was there any developmental delay? I only ponder this because that can certainly have an effect on empathy in children).

However, how is this a worse crime than that committed against baby P - who suffered evern more prolonged abuse (over a matter of months, not hours) at the hands of his mother and her partner? They were adults. They were well aware of the consequences of their actions. They were mature enough to have developed empathy (not to mention one of the adults was actually the child's own mother, of course).

The fact that two children committed this heinous act is horrendous of course, and goes against everything that we as a society believe in - the age of innocence, that children are incapable of such violence. However, as we all know, even well-brought up children are capable of cruelty. Bullying in the playground, teasing of those who they see as lesser than them. It's a 'gang mentality' mostly, of course, each egging the others on. And that's more than likely what happened in this case. Alone, perhaps neither boy would have been capable of harming another child. Together, they became a lethal combination.

Children aren't capable of recognising that 'death' equals death. They have no concept of it. They also think they're going to live forever and that nothing will ever harm them. That's a child's view, simply because they haven't developed sufficiently to recognise the finality of it. A child is developing all the time; the sensibilities and empathy growing as they age. It's why there are developmental assessments on children - to ascertain how they are progressing in this area.

Every murder is horrific. The two children were villified (as rightly they should have been); but they are held up to a higher standard than an adult murderer or a serial killer. Which is wrong. They were children. They were not mature people who understood exactly what they were doing (or the consequences of it). Adults are supposed to understand these things because their brain processes have matured. Children's haven't. The concept of KNOWING wrong from right is very different from UNDERSTANDING wrong from right.

The whole thing is tragic and I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that the Bulger family have to live with every day.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:02
MCC243
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A man has just been found guilty of the manslaughter of his five month old baby through violent shaking. The baby's injuries included bleeding behind the brain, detached retina and other bruising on the body. He was sentenced to 9 years. That's 4.5 years in custody and 4.5 years on license.

I bet without googling, no-one would know who he is.

But Thompson and Venables - everyone's favourite 'devil children' - totally different story.
And you've just explained why it's a different story.

Right or wrong is irrelevant. the case is unique in many respects. Unfortunately Adults killing a child in their care by shaking or other means isn't.

It's got nothing to do with them being everyones favourite 'Devil Children'. The case generates interest for many reasons. Your own posting history indicates an almost obsession like interest with the story and people involved.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:06
Slarti Bartfast
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It always strikes me that if Thompson had become part of the public consciousness before he killed James he would have been viewed with the same sympathy that we later all felt for James (and much later, and more similarly, Baby P). Venables is slightly different in that his home life wasn't necessarily abusive, but his family life was in many ways disturbing and categorised by developmental abnormality.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:07
shmisk
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Callus mum- I think I disagree that some children do know death means death
My son did at 7 when his dog died and a lot in his class have had pets or relatives die
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:20
Cally's mum
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Callus mum- I think I disagree that some children do know death means death
My son did at 7 when his dog died and a lot in his class have had pets or relatives die
I think it does depend on the circumstance (and their own development; empathy is something that develops as a child develops and they all do so at different rates). And whilst children are understandably upset when parents/pets die (as we all are. i just lost a beloved pet and I'm still devastated); their concept can differ from someone more mature.

I'm not a psychologist and I don't begin to pretend I understand these things on any intellectual level, but I am deeply interested in the psyche and thus have read about it a lot. Plus, i know a bit about developmental assessments and the various spectrums out there.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:20
MCC243
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It always strikes me that if Thompson had become part of the public consciousness before he killed James he would have been viewed with the same sympathy that we later all felt for James (and much later, and more similarly, Baby P). Venables is slightly different in that his home life wasn't necessarily abusive, but his family life was in many ways disturbing and categorised by developmental abnormality.
What was 'disturbing' about Venables childhood/family life? I am aware he had developmental issues but I'm not aware of any actual incidents. I also read a post last night that described his upbringing as 'horrific'. Was there any evidence of this? I don't remember it.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:29
Babe Rainbow
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A man has just been found guilty of the manslaughter of his five month old baby through violent shaking. The baby's injuries included bleeding behind the brain, detached retina and other bruising on the body. He was sentenced to 9 years. That's 4.5 years in custody and 4.5 years on license.

I bet without googling, no-one would know who he is.

But Thompson and Venables - everyone's favourite 'devil children' - totally different story.
Exactly. And nobody cares, except the family and friends.

Thompson and Venables have been held more accountable and more punishable, for something they did when they were 10, than an adult perpetrator. Where is the logic in that ?
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:31
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That OP was far too balanced and reasonable for a DS Bulger thread. And FWIW I broadly agree.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:42
francie
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What was 'disturbing' about Venables childhood/family life? I am aware he had developmental issues but I'm not aware of any actual incidents. I also read a post last night that described his upbringing as 'horrific'. Was there any evidence of this? I don't remember it.
From what I've read Thompson, out of the two of them, had the violent home environment. Venables by all accounts was an attention seeker who was disruptive in class etc and many feel it was because his older and younger siblings got more attention than he did (they both had learning difficulties iirc). I've not read of physical abuse in Venables home (but I appreciate other forms of abuse can be just as disturbing).
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:45
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From what I've read Thompson, out of the two of them, had the violent home environment. Venables by all accounts was an attention seeker who was disruptive in class etc and many feel it was because his older and younger siblings got more attention than he did (they both had learning difficulties iirc). I've not read of physical abuse in Venables home (but I appreciate other forms of abuse can be just as disturbing).
That's why I asked. I wasn't aware of any but I noticed one or two posts suggesting otherwise.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:47
anais32
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Jon Venables life had its problems. His mother was allegedly violent, a drinker and was investigated by the police for leaving very young children alone (Jon was left to look after his two sibilings with learning difficulties).

Thompson's background was abusive (extremely) - with Venables is was more about neglect.

However, Susan Venables was very good at putting on a false front.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:47
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I find it quite a difficult one to process to be honest. On the one hand, yes, they were children themselves when this terrible crime occurred, their personalities not yet fully formed, their thought processes still in flux - but its also true that they were fully aware of what they were doing and that it was wrong. All in all, the authorities I think got it right - they were put away, they got (presumably) help, then at an appropriate age they were released, given a new identity and allowed to see what they could make of themselves.

One of them has since reoffended, we must be thankful I suppose that his crime this time did not involve the death and mutilation of a baby (because James was little more than a baby) so did the rehabilitation work in his case? And how many chances do you give someone?

The other seems (as we here little to nothing about him) to have gone off and got on with his life. Possibly now a productive member of society. Hopefully one who never forgets what he did or the second chance he got.

There are a lot of differences between a 10 year old child and the adult they will become. You could not, realistically, have locked two 10 year olds up and thrown away the key, not sure that would have been Justice.

James will never get a second chance at life though. Was any punishment ever going to be enough to balance that out? No it wasnt.
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Old 15-02-2013, 08:55
towers
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What was 'disturbing' about Venables childhood/family life? I am aware he had developmental issues but I'm not aware of any actual incidents. I also read a post last night that described his upbringing as 'horrific'. Was there any evidence of this? I don't remember it.
It was said on tv a few days ago that one of them was sexually abused but I can't be sure that was true - brought up in court - or rumour.
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Old 15-02-2013, 09:02
anais32
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towers - that was Thompson. And that was well known (even by the police at the time of the murder who strongly suspected it).

Of course, had Thompson died before he murdered someone, he'd have been a tragic victim of abuse, neglect, desertion, violence, addicted parents, bullying sibilings.
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Old 15-02-2013, 09:03
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A man has just been found guilty of the manslaughter of his five month old baby through violent shaking. The baby's injuries included bleeding behind the brain, detached retina and other bruising on the body. He was sentenced to 9 years. That's 4.5 years in custody and 4.5 years on license.

I bet without googling, no-one would know who he is.

But Thompson and Venables - everyone's favourite 'devil children' - totally different story.
True. The most mystifying aspect of the discussions over the years has been the constant suggestion that the crime was worse because the perpetrators were children. I wonder how many people, without googling even remember the name of the man who abducted and murdered Sarah Payne, and that was front page news for weeks and weeks.
However, Susan Venables was very good at putting on a false front.
She may have been a poor mother in some or all respects, but I can't imagine that many people on earth would envy her life.
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Old 15-02-2013, 09:07
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Jon Venables life had its problems. His mother was allegedly violent, a drinker and was investigated by the police for leaving very young children alone (Jon was left to look after his two sibilings with learning difficulties).

Thompson's background was abusive (extremely) - with Venables is was more about neglect.

However, Susan Venables was very good at putting on a false front.
It is always 'allegedly' or it was 'suggested' though. There was never any suggestion of violence or abuse in his life. His mum wasn't a drinker in the same respect as Thompson's mum. I never heard any stories of her being a heavy drinker.

I think some 'suggestions' or 'alleged' occurrences have developed a life of their own over the years and are now being quoted as fact by some.
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Old 15-02-2013, 09:08
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The concept of KNOWING wrong from right is very different from UNDERSTANDING wrong from right
Snipped, but replying to the post overall, which I think was excellent.

"They knew right from wrong" is an argument often used in varying degrees in this case, often, for some people, to justify their subsequent demonization - but, as you've said, understanding the concept is very different for children.

Dale Creegan was mentioned in one of the other Bulger threads, which I initially thought was just absurd, but then I do think it does provide quite a clear, recent example of what a lot of people are trying to say. Creegan planned to kill two police officers - gender, apparently, irrelevant. His actions the night before suggest that he was fully aware of the consequences. His actions afterwards, in handing himself in, also confirm the level of forethought that went in to what he did.

His actions on the actual day were brutal. The level of overkill was extreme. He set out to take two lives and achieved that purpose.

Are we subsequently supposed to believe that two ten year old children are capable of that level of forethought and planning, knowing - and understanding - the consequences of their actions?

I guess for many people the answer is actually 'yes', since it fits their version of T & V as "evil". People point to the fact that they left him on a train line to be hit by a train as 'proof' of their intentions, but then I've read a few articles over the years that offer a counter point. The suggestion being that they did that simply to avoid getting in to trouble, by claiming it was an accident, rather than deliberately choosing to do so to make absolutely certain he was killed.

But then I guess this will alway remain a hugely divisive case, however rationally you might want to look at it.
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Old 15-02-2013, 09:10
anais32
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I think one of the things many people have problems understanding is the level of violence meted out - it was a sustained, frenzied, brutal attack. The actual final attack on James itself would have probably lasted just 15 minutes - so horrifically violent it was (in fact it couldn't have lasted longer because they were seen going up the bank by someone with James - who was laughing at the time - and then 30 mins later in a video shop without him).

However, anyone who has seen a two year old will understand that children can be brutal - it is generally their size that prevents them doing more damage!
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Old 15-02-2013, 09:12
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In my opinion, the reason Thompson and Venables are seen as different is due to their age. Why you ask? Well most people's moral rights and wrongs are formed when growing up. As soon as they reach adulthood, it is difficult to drastically alter someone's core beliefs.

So going by that, this crime that was comitted, shaped them as people. They lived through this crime and it will shape their views and opinions for years and years. That is why these two are seen as more dangerous than most others.

That is to say, that if an adult comitted a similar crime, you would hope that they could get help and look into their past and understand what made them commit this horrific crime. It could well be something specific in their upringing that has cause them to act in this way. By delving into their upringing you can then make them understand how they got to thinking the way they do now.

With Venables / Thompson, if you were to delve into their upbringing, it would be murder, followed by prison - they would have less to focus on to understand why they did what they did. Which makes it more difficult to beleive that these two can change as people.
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Old 15-02-2013, 09:15
anais32
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With Venables / Thompson, if you were to delve into their upbringing, it would be murder, followed by prison - they would have less to focus on to understand why they did what they did. Which makes it more difficult to beleive that these two can change as people.
Except in almost every single other example we have of children who commit this type of crime, the reverse is true. They CAN go on to lead functional lives. With some, it is true, there are continued problems but this has usually been in the form of drug/alcohol problems and/or petty offending. (Mary Bell shoplifted in order to try to get herself sent back to prison and was found shaking in a public toilet once because she wanted the comfort of a locked door).
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