Body of James Bulger found
The abduction and horrific murder of toddler James Bulger in February 1993 left a scar on the British public conscience: how could the two young boys who brutally killed him be allowed to descend to such depths; why had none intervened among the more than 30 who noticed the little child with his subsequent killers as they dragged and cajoled him for two miles to his death?
When the famous CCTV still of James being led away by Venables and Thompson, his killers, was first seen everyone assumed they must be teenagers, and surely older ones at that. It was difficult to believe boys aged 10 could carry out such a vile crime. Yet they had. The official announcement just after James’ body was found suggested the death may have been accidental, a game gone wrong perhaps. But it was not. It turned out that they had been lurking for several hours in the shopping centre where they happened on James Bulger, having already discussed snatching another toddler. They took the two-year-old to a railway line and subjected him to what must have been prolonged brutality, described in court as torture. He was finally beaten to death with an iron bar, and his dead body left weighted down across a railway line, where a passing train severed it.
The outcry when what had actually happened became clear was enormous: the parents of the killers were blamed; likewise the bystanders who had not acted (would many of us, seeing a boy with his ‘brother’?). But in the end the question remained: are some children simply evil? Legal wrangling meant they spent eight years incarcerated before being released, according to the experts no longer a threat. It is to be hoped this is correct, not only for public safety but for the principle that none are beyond redemption. The reason if reason there be for their sickening actions has never, however, been explained.
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