It was reported some weeks ago now that Jon Venables, one of the two 10 year old child killers of young James Bulger from way back in 1993, had been recalled to prison. At that stage the details of the breach of the licence which allowed Venables to be freed from custody was not released.
Some thought the breach should not be made public, for the sake of a fair trial whilst there were others, like myself who believed that Venables had ‘burnt out’ his right to anonymity and the details of the offence should be disclosed to the public.
What has become apparent over the last day or so is that Venables now faces child porn charges. It is alleged that Venables downloaded 57 indecent images of children and distributed 7 of those images. If found guilty, or if Venables pleads guilty, the sentence he receives will be based on the severity of the images he has downloaded and distributed.
For those who don’t know, (and why would you) child pornography is categorised by a system known as ‘The Copine Scale’. The scale ranges from Level 1 images which depict nudity and erotic posing through to Level 5 mages depicting sadism and bestiality.
The higher the level of the images, the greater the sentence.
When Jon Venables faces his court case, he will do so under his new name, presumably only the trial judge and counsel will be aware of his true identity. Certainly the jury will not be aware of the history of the 27 year old who stands before them.
The problem is this what do we do with Venables after his sentence and how will we monitor him? He will, if convicted, (and let’s assume the police do have evidence on Venables’ computer which would have been recovered) have to sign the Sex Offenders Register and be visited by Sex Offender Officers.
Next year ‘Sara’s Law’ is to be rolled out across the country following a successful trail in certain areas. Sara’s Law, named after Sarah Payne, who was killed by a paedophile Roy Whiting on July 2000, will see parents able to request information of any paedophiles who may have contact with their children.
Presumably this will apply to Venables when he is released. However it will only apply to these offences of Child Pornography and once again his murderous history will be hidden from view.
The murder of Jamie Bulger remains one of the most abhorrent crimes in UK criminal history. In Liverpool there will be serving Police Officers who worked on the case 17 years ago. I wonder how they feel about the current situation with Venables? No doubt some of them will say that it ‘was always going to happen’. And who are we to say that they are wrong? Not every one can be reformed.
What about Jamie’s Parents who are constantly bombarded with reminders of their young son’s death and the face of one of the people responsible. It is a sad indictment of the Justice system in this country that this has been allowed to happen, as it is that Venables was given the freedom to offend for a second time against children.
Do we now see that no community punishment will kerb his offending? Or will we send him back into the vicious circle of release – offend – convict? This is of no benefit to him and certainly of no benefit to society as a whole and our innocent children.