Child killer Venables used sex and porn as ‘means of coping’ – parole report

Child killer Jon Venables used sex and pornography “as a means of coping”, felt a “lack of fulfilment in life” and had a “need for excitement”, Parole Board papers reveal.

The detail is set out in documents explaining why he was denied parole last month, meaning he will remain behind bars and cannot be moved to an open prison.

James Bulger was tortured and killed by the men formerly known as Venables and Robert Thompson – who were both aged 10 – after they snatched him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993.

Thompson and Venables were jailed for life but released on licence with new identities in 2001.

Venables, 36, was sent back to prison in 2010 and 2017 for possessing indecent images of children.

He has been serving a 40-month sentence which passed the halfway mark last October.

Earlier this year the Parole Board was asked to review his case when he became eligible, but the panel decided he should not be released.

Documents detailing the reasons behind the decision were made public on Tuesday.

The papers said: “The risk factors identified at the time of his offending included his sexual interests and an attraction to sexual violence as well as other issues considered relevant but amenable to change.

“Risk factors identified in subsequent reviews include thinking about sex a lot, problems in maintaining relationships, concerns about self-awareness, and his ability to deal with stress.

“Mr Venables had also experienced difficulties relating to employment.

“Features leading up to his offending as an adult included a sense of dissatisfaction and lack of fulfilment in life, a need for excitement, and a tendency to turn to sex or pornography as a means of coping.”

The report also revealed Venables did not request release and, while a proposal for this was considered, the panel rejected it as not “robust enough”.

During his time in prison his behaviour had been “positive”, he had a job behind bars and was attending courses to address his “propensity for sexual offending”, the papers said.

A number of “protective factors” – which may deter him from reoffending – were also considered, including “level of intelligence”, making “constructive use of his time” and having a “motivation for self-reflection”.

The summary of the decision said: “After considering the circumstances of his offending, the progress made whilst in custody and on licence, as well as the other evidence presented in the dossier, the panel was not satisfied that Mr Venables was suitable for re-release.

“Nor did the panel recommend to the Secretary of State that Mr Venables should be transferred to open prison.

“Given that key areas of risk remained subject to continuing interventions, the panel considered that Mr Venables was appropriately located in custody where outstanding levels of risk could be addressed.”

Because the decision was made on paper without a hearing, prisoners are given 28 days to request one and, as a result, details of how the decision is reached are not published for a month.

Venables will be eligible for another parole review in two years.

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