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The Bulger killers: Prisoners of their past
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson
The Bulger Killers - Prisoners of their past
Sunday 1 July 2001

The solicitor of Ann Thompson, Robert's mother, wrote to Panorama the day before transmission. Mrs. Thompson approved the contents of the letter. It describes her situation, and states that she would like to left alone. Click here to read the full contents of the correspondence.
Eight years ago, the killing of little James Bulger by two ten year old boys was condemned by a judge as "an act of unparalleled evil." Now Jon Venables and Robert Thompson are 18, and their imminent release has unleashed another storm of feeling and controversy.

Many demand to know how they can be truly reformed and remorseful, and whether it can be right that they will walk free again. The courts have tried to protect their anonymity, but anger at James' death is still raw.

Revenge is talked of openly on Merseyside and there are threats to hunt down the young men. The family of the murdered two-year-old believe only another decade in an adult prison can begin to compensate for what happened to their child.

The case of the Bulger killers has changed forever the way children are tried for serious crimes in this country. Jane Corbin tells the inside story of the boys' eight year struggle against the legal system, the media and the politicians who, responding to public outrage, tried to double their sentence.

Panorama asks whether the time has come to allow these young men to re-join society or whether they must always remain prisoners of their past.

Jane Corbin took your questions on the case that horrified the nation eight years ago.

See also:

The lawyer of one of the boys, Jon Venables, tells Panorama why he should be allowed to return to society.

The family of one of the Bulger killers has been forced into hiding after an alleged revenge attack.

Production Team:
Reporter Jane Corbin
Producer Jeremy Bristow
Director Jonathan Jones
Assistant Producers Andy Bell & Esella Hawkey

Panorama's Jane Corbin
"The trial of the boys became a national event"
Prisoners of their past
Threats to the boys prompted the draconian measures that ban the press from revealing their new identities
Links to more Panorama stories are at the foot of the page.

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