The Jon Venables case raises the issue of whether notorious criminals should be given the chance to rebuild their lives beneath a cloak of anonymity.
Since his release on licence, the child killer has now twice been convicted and sent back to jail over indecent images of children.
According to a probation report, he remains at serious risk of re-offending as his interest in children is a "profound and lifelong" issue.
Denise Fergus, mother of his victim James Bulger, accused authorities of hushing up his behaviour by way of a police caution when he tried to access the internet in 2015.
But Edward Fitzgerald QC, representing Venables, said he still had the "capacity for good and the capacity for change".
He urged society not to give up on the defendant as he argued against a "crushing sentence" for his latest "relapse".
Venables remains in "constant fear of reprisals", the Old Bailey was told.
And despite his disturbing past, he had lived in the community for nine years before his recall.
Mr Fitzgerald told the court: "He lived a relatively normal life where he worked hard for a living."
In that time, he never attempted to come into contact with any children and worked hard on his rehabilitation, he said.
The lawyer said his "relapse" had been swiftly detected and acted upon by authorities.
Mr Fitzgerald said Venables had acknowledged he had "urges" to access indecent material and needed help to understand why.
And he admitted to his parole officer that he had a "serious problem", the lawyer said.
As he was led away by police last November, Venables said: "This is my own fault. I have let people down again.
"I have had stupid urges, inquisitive. I'm not going to be seeing this for a lot of years.
"It's not going to be a slap on the wrist for me."