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Friday, 27 April, 2001, 06:52 GMT 07:52 UK
Mother angry at Bulger killers' 'perks'

Venables (left) and Thompson could be released this summer
The mother of murdered toddler James Bulger has expressed her anger at the apparent special treatment given to her son's killers in their secure homes.

Denise Fergus said she had always felt Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both from Merseyside, were rewarded for their crime.

Her reaction follows a newspaper report that Venables, now 18, had been released from his secure unit to watch a Manchester United game.

In any child who is detained for a lengthy period of time... rehabilitation includes leaving the unit

John Dickenson
Venables' solicitor

Mrs Fergus, of Merseyside, said: "Both Thompson and Venables have always been mollycoddled and given special privileges.

"It makes me very angry because it shows that they have never been punished - all they have ever had is rewards for murdering my son."

Her solicitor Sean Sexton added: "They had Game Boys at the trial and now this. The boys get taken to a game that decent young people cannot get tickets for."

James Bulger was abducted by Venables and Thompson from a shopping centre and murdered in 1993.

'Special outings'

The Manchester Evening News revealed that Venables had also visited shopping centres and had taken part in five-a-side football matches under his new identity.

Denise Fergus
Denise Fergus will appeal to parole board
Mr Sexton said Mrs Fergus had raised fears that the killers were being given special treatment on a number of occasions.

He said: "She believes they have been rewarded through the enormity of their crime. If they had simply been car thieves or joyriders they won't have had this sort of treatment."

But Venables' solicitor John Dickenson denied his client was given special treatment.

"In any child who is detained for a lengthy period of time then, subject to risk assessment, rehabilitation includes leaving the unit."

'Imminent release'

Venables and Thompson, both from Liverpool, have been in secure units since their convictions.

But both have served more than their minimum tariff of seven years and eight months and are eligible for release.

A report in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday says that the boys could be freed before the end of June.

It is expected that they will first be released into hostel where their behaviour can be monitored.

Mrs Fergus is expected to make submissions to the parole board calling for the teenagers to be sent to a young offenders institution rather than released.

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