Parole officers cleared in British child killer porn case

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A review cleared probation officers Tuesday of failing to prevent one of Britain's most notorious murderers obtaining child porn while he was on parole for killing a toddler when he was aged just 10.

Jon Venables, who murdered two-year-old James Bulger in 1993 and is now 27, was jailed in July for collecting indecent images of children when he was supposedly being monitored.

A government-ordered review into Venables' supervision concluded Tuesday that probation officers could have done little to stop him, according to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke.

However, it found he could have been given more therapy and more help to enhance his employment prospects after being released from jail in 2001.

Review author David Omand, a former civil servant, "concluded that Venables alone is responsible for his further offence and it could not have been prevented or predicted by any reasonable supervision," Clarke said.

Venables and Robert Thompson, who was also 10 at the time, were given life sentences for killing Bulger.

In a murder that shocked Britain, they snatched the toddler from a shopping centre in Liverpool, northwest England. They took him to a nearby train track where they beat him with bricks and an iron bar and left him for dead.

The pair were released on licence in 2001 and, amid public outrage over the killing, were given new identities for their own safety. They disappeared out of public view but were still being monitored.

Venables resurfaced in February after being caught with indecent pictures of children on his computer. He pleaded guilty to three charges at a London court earlier this year and was sentenced to two years in jail.

Bulger's mother Denise Fergus rejected the sentence as "simply not enough", although the judge in the case said that after serving his time, it would be up to a parole board to decide if Venables would be released.


© 2010 AFP

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