What sort of society have we become that we care more about preserving the anonymity of a convicted child killer than we do about the terrible act he committed against his victim?
I am referring, of course, to an incident in 1993 when a two-year-old boy, Jamie Bulger, was taken from a northern shopping centre by two ten-year-old boys who tortured and beat him to death on a railway line.
Jamie’s abductors, John Venables and Robert Thompson, were subsequently caught, processed by the courts and given custodial sentences. It was argued that, legally at least, because they were minors, they could not be held responsible for their actions, even though it is inconceivable that anyone who could commit such a terrible act could possibly have carried it out without knowing that what they were doing was against every accepted standard of humanity.
They have since been released back into society, on license, given new identities and promised anonymity to protect them from revenge attacks.
One of them, John Venables, now 27, has been taken back into custody, following what are described as offences being committed which are in breach of his licence conditions. He is expected to face serious charges under his new identity.
Predictably, the media and the family of Jamie Bulger want to know the full facts which would involve releasing details of his new life. The Justice Secretary, Jack Straw, is resisting the pressure and refusing to comply. There is talk that to do so would infringe Venables’ human rights and put his life in danger.
When he was released from his original custodial sentence and given his new life, he was given a second chance. It now seems that he has betrayed that trust and should, therefore, forfeit the benefits and generosity our society has shown towards him.
Lawyers say he is innocent until proven guilty and of course they are right but they forget that Jamie Bulger was never given the chance to prove anything in his short life!
His ‘human rights’ were extinguished in 1993!