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UK: Toddler killer Jon Venables granted parole

July 4, 2013

LONDON (AP) — One of Britain’s most notorious child killers will be paroled a second time after he was sent back to prison over a child pornography conviction.

Jon Venables was 11 years old when he was convicted along with another boy of abducting 2-year-old James Bulger from a shopping center and beating him to death by an isolated railway line in northern England in 1993.

The two killers — who were 10 years old at the time of the crime — were given life sentences, but were released on parole in 2001 after being given new identities to protect them. The move sparked a contentious debate in Britain, where memories of the murder have remained sharp.

Venables was jailed again in 2010 after pleading guilty to downloading and distributing dozens of indecent images of children, breaching the terms of his release from juvenile detention and reigniting the debate over whether he should have been released in the first place.

Earlier this year, James’s mother, Denise Fergus, and father, Ralph Bulger, both addressed a parole healing and pushed for Venables to remain in prison.

But the U.K. parole board on Thursday confirmed that Venables had been granted parole; it declined to provide details on when he will be released. The Ministry of Justice declined to comment on the case, but said re-release of offenders is ordered by the parole board once it is satisfied they can be “safely managed” in the community.

Fergus took to Twitter to vent her frustration, writing: “Just don’t believe what I’ve got 2 go through. AGAIN.”

Ralph Bulger’s lawyer, Robin Makin, said in a statement that his client is “disappointed and dismayed” by the “reckless decision” to release Venables.

“The decision to release Jon Venables is misguided and fills Ralph with terror,” Makin said.

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