On February 12th, 1993, in Kirkby, Merseyside, England, James Bulger was lead away from his mother and killed by 10-year-old Venables and his friend Robert Thompson. CCTV evidence from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle showed Thompson and Venables looking at several children, which was believed to be them selecting a target.
On the day, they were playing truant from school and were also seen stealing several items including sweets, troll dolls, and blue paint. They later revealed that their plan was to steal a child and then push him into heavy oncoming traffic.
At around 3.40pm, Denise Bulger realized that her son, James or “Jamie” to family, had disappeared whilst she was distracted inside a butcher’s shop. CCTV showed that Thompson and Venables had taken the toddler by the hand and lead him out of the shopping center.
They had then walked for 4km (2.5miles) across to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal where they tortured him by kicking and stomping on him, throwing bricks and stones, covering him in blue paint and police also believe they may have inserted batteries into his anus. They had found a 22-pound (10.0kg) iron bar and dropped this on his head causing ten skull fractures.
Before they left the scene of the crime, the boys laid Bulger’s body across the tracks and weighted him down with rubble. They were both hoping that his death would have appeared like an accident. Bulger’s severed body, caused by the impact of a train, was discovered two days later.
The police found the video of the abduction and many people claimed they had seen the three boys together but not had intervened. One woman recognized the two boys, knew they had played truant that day and contacted the police.
The real identity of the two boys came as a huge shock to detectives, as the low-resolution CCTV led them to believe they were looking for “two youths” aged 16-18 years old. The two 10-year-old boys were each charged with the murder on February 20th, 1993. Both their families moved to different areas of the country and were assigned new identities after receiving death threats from the general public.
Both Thompson and Venables were reassigned new identities and the location of their imprisonment was also hidden from the public due to the outrage and mounting death threats. The Manchester Evening News published details suggesting the name of the secure institutions where the pair were and they were fined £30,000 for contempt of court and ordered to pay costs of £120,000.