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Thursday, 21 June, 2001, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Bulger mother speaks out over killers
Jon Venables (left) and Robert Thompson
Venables and Thompson could be released within days
The mother of murdered toddler James Bulger says his killers' should not be freed for at least another seven years.

Speaking exclusively to the BBC, Denise Fergus says the teenagers, who have already served eight years in secure local authority accommodation, should be locked up for 15-20 years in total.


I know one day they have got to be released, but I think after eight years it's too soon for what they have done

Denise Fergus, James Bulger's mother

Her comments come as authorities meet to decide whether two-year-old James's killers should be released early.

The parole board heard the case for Jon Venables on Tuesday and is currently reviewing Robert Thompson's appeal.

Both men, who are now 18, could be freed as early as next week if the board accepts they are no longer a threat to society.

But in a programme which was screened on BBC Two on Thursday night, Mrs Fergus says their eight-year jail term is not punishment enough.

Denise Fergus
Denise Fergus: Sentences should be doubled

She says she cannot accept that Thompson and Venables would be allowed a fresh start, if released.

During the interview for the documentary "Eyes of the Detective", she says that instead of being released, the teenagers' sentences should be doubled.

She said: "I would say 15-20 years, I could learn to live with that.

"I know one day they have got to be released, but I think after eight years it's too soon for what they have done."

Mrs Fergus has written to the parole board outlining why Thompson and Venables should not be released.

Deliberations

On Tuesday, the panel completed its deliberations on the case of Venables.

They are continuing to discuss the case of Thompson.

Their cases are being dealt with separately - and it is possible one could be released and not the other.

The decisions must be made within seven days of the end of each hearing.
James Bulger
James Bulger was lured to his death

The pair were both 10 when they abducted James Bulger from a shopping precinct in Bootle, Merseyside, before torturing him and battering him to death.

The trial judge set the tariff - the minimum time they must spend in custody - at eight years.

This was increased to 15 years by the then Home Secretary Michael Howard, and this was later confirmed by Labour's former Home Secretary, Jack Straw.

But Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf ruled last October that it would not be beneficial for the boys to be in the "corrosive atmosphere" of an adult prison.

Thompson and Venables are protected by a High Court injunction banning the publication of anything which may lead to their identification after their release.

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