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Friday, 22 June, 2001, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Merseyside anger over killers' release
residents react
Merseyside reacts to news of the killers' release
The decision to release the killers of James Bulger has been greeted with anger and disbelief in Merseyside.

Many people criticised the Parole Board's move and demanded that Robert Thompson and Jon Venables should be transferred to a young offenders' institute to continue their sentence.

Marie O'Neill, 53, from Aintree, Liverpool, said: "I think it is disgusting.

"I do not think they should be released. They have not served long enough.

I don't think these lads have had enough punishment

Liverpool resident Marie O'Neill
"I have met James's mother Denise and she feels exactly the same."

Mother-of-three Mrs O'Neill said the memory of two-year-old James's death is still very painful to her.

She added: "I think it wasn't just people in Liverpool who were distressed by it, it was people all over the world.

"We have relatives in Canada and they were also shocked about what happened to James.

"The whole country was appalled. I don't think these lads have had enough punishment."

Harry Crawford, licensee of The Star pub - which is only yards from Bootle's Strand Shopping Centre where James was abducted in 1993 - echoed Mrs O'Neill's feelings.

bulger abduct
James's abduction shocked the world
He said: "I cannot agree with the Parole Board's decision.

"A lot of people have been in here talking about it and they all think it is wrong.

"It is very close to the people around here and they are all angry."

Opposition in Merseyside to the release of the two killers was reflected in a phone poll taken by one of the local newspapers, the Liverpool Echo this week.

About 42,000 people rang the paper to take part in the vote, with 83 per cent coming out against the release of Venables and Thompson.

'Raw emotion'

Editor Mark Dickinson told the BBC News 24: "There is a lot of raw emotion, a lot of anger, a lot of disappointment.

"There is also a sense of disempowerment.

"A lot of people feel desperately frustrated on behalf of Ralph and Denise that they were not involved in the parole process."

Robin Makin, Ralph Bulger's solicitor, told BBC News 24: "We tried our very best through the legal process to put forward principled arguments about what punishment was all about.

"The authorities were simply not prepared to listen.

"The reality is that this idea of the victim having a say in the process is a bit like the Emperor's new clothes in that there is absolutely nothing there."

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