|Wednesday, 29 October 2008 17:09|
Born: 16 March 1990, Liverpool, Merseyside, England
Died: 12 February 1993, Walton, Liverpool, England
Cause of death: Iron bar trauma to skull.
Notable because: Unprecedented moment of violent madness by two 10 year old's that chilled every parents heart and changed the way every British parent looked after their children.
James was the victim of abduction and murder. His killers were two 10-year-old boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson. The murder took place in Merseyside, England.
The murder of a child by two other children caused public shock, outrage and grief, particularly around Merseyside.
James disappeared from the New Strand Shopping Centre, where he had been with his mother Denise, on 12 February 1993 and his mutilated body was found on a railway line at Bootle on 14 February. Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, then 10 , were charged with James's murder on 22 February 1993 and remanded in custody.
The two boys, by then 11, were found guilty of murder at Preston Crown Court on 24 November 1993. The trial judge sentenced them to be detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure, with a recommendation that they should be kept in custody for "very, very many years to come". Shortly after the trial, Lord Taylor of Gosforth, the Lord Chief Justice, ordered that the two boys should serve a minimum of ten years, which would have made them eligible for release in February 2003 (they had been charged with James's murder on 22 February 1993), when they would be 20.
The popular press felt the sentence was too lenient, and the editors of The Sun newspaper handed a petition bearing 300,000 signatures to Home Secretary Michael Howard, in a bid to increase the time spent by both boys in custody. This campaign was successful, and in 1995 Howard announced that the boys would be kept in custody for a minimum of 15 years, meaning that they would not be considered for release until February 2008, by which time they would be 25.
In 1997, the Court of Appeal ruled that Howard's decision to set a 15-year tariff was unlawful, and the Home Secretary lost his power to set minimum terms for life-sentence prisoners under 18. The High Court and European Court of Human Rights have ruled that politicians can no longer decide how long a life sentence prisoner can remain behind bars.
Thompson and Venables were released on a life licence in June 2001, after serving eight years, when a parole hearing concluded that public safety would not be threatened by their rehabilitation. An injunction was imposed after the trial preventing the publication of details about the boys, for fear of reprisals. The injunction remained in force following their release, so their new identities and locations could not be published.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:40|