Sick claims rock James Bulger case
Warning: Graphic content
ONE of the killers of toddler James Bulger believes murdering the two-year-old meant he went on to living a better life.
Robert Thompson, now 36, said he was a "better person" due to his years in jail for the 1993 abduction and murder that shocked the world.
Thompson and friend Jon Venables were only 10 years old when they lured James away from his mum, who momentarily had her back turned, at a mall in Merseyside, in northwest England.
A grainy picture taken from CCTV footage showed the appalling moment when James was taken by the hand in what would become one of the defining images of the case.
The killers walked James for 4km and were spotted by 38 people. Some challenged the pair, but they told the passers-by he was their younger brother or that he was lost and they were taking him to a local police station.
Statements made by the killer to the parole board in 2001 have been revealed by a documentary called James Bulger: The New Revelations which airs on British television tonight (Thursday morning Australian time).
In them he made the extraordinary comment that by killing James and being locked away, he actually had a better life than he would have had if he hadn't committed the crime.
"I do feel aware I am now a better person and have had a better life and a better education than if I had not committed the murder."
"At that time of my life, I was completely out of control and spending time with a group of friends whose main occupation was committing crime and causing trouble.
"I was out of control because my life on the streets was better for me than my life at home - there was nothing for me at home."
He appeared to understand how the comments, which were obtained by British media ahead of the broadacst, would be viewed.
"There is obviously an irony to this, but it is part of my remorseful feelings as well.
"I, personally, wish Mr and Mrs Bulger and their families to know that I am desperately sorry for what I did, and aware of the enormity of what I did."
Thompson and Venables took James to a railway line and tortured, beat and sexually assaulted him.
They poured modelling paint into his eyes, stoned him and clubbed him with bricks, before leaving him on the railway line to be hit by a train.
After killing him they left his body near the tracks where it was discovered two days later.
They were tried as adults and sentenced to eight years in a secure youth accommodation facility.
Thompson said he was "deeply ashamed" for the role he played, as he gave a new insight into what happened that day.
Neither boy gave evidence at trial and have never commented publicly about what happened.
According to his statement, he denied the pair sexually assaulted James.
"Jon Venables and I did not speak to each other at all, as I remember, during the attack. And we didn't speak about it after we left James Bulger on the railway line."
He described what he was feeling and thinking in the moments before the attack.
"I had a strange energy in me where I had to be doing something, getting chased, stealing something, getting into trouble, and Jon Venables with James Bulger was stopping me from doing this. I am deeply ashamed of what I did, of having played a part in this horrible murder."
The chilling detail is set to cause fresh agony for James' parents Ralph and Denise Fergus.
Mr Bulger said the statements - and the messages they conveyed - "terrifies me".
"The message here is horrific - kill a child and you will get a privileged and cosy life in return.
"They got a first-class education, counsellors and therapists while James's family was thrown to the wolves with our grief," he told the Mirror.
"It terrifies me that this sends out a message that you can commit a crime as heinous as killing James and get away with it."
In a separate interview with a British paper, he slammed Thompson's words.
"Their false words mean nothing to me. They might have hoodwinked the Parole Board and the do-gooders who let them out, but they will never deceive me."
Ms Fergus has written a book about losing James called I Let Him Go, and has campaigned to find out whether the parole board was aware of evidence that suggested her son was sexually assaulted before his death.
Thompson claimed he pleaded not guilty at trial because he was scared of revenge attacks.
"This is why I felt unable to admit my part in the murder. I wanted to tell what had happened, but I could not accept the blame, so I had to tell and put the blame for everything on Jon Venables' shoulders.
He appeared to lay more blame with Venables - "I was too frightened to accept any blame myself" - it was Thompson who was considered the ringleader.
Thompson said he was overwhelmed with the trial and didn't feel he could plead guilty.
"My trial was an ordeal. The Judge's robes included gloves and a black cloth, which I asked my lawyers about, and the answer frightened me. The courtroom was totally packed with reporters, and I felt paralysed by their attention.
"I didn't feel it was possible for me to make an admission of my involvement, having seen the public reaction to the crime, and to myself and Jon Venables as the people accused of that crime. I didn't feel able to give evidence."
In June 2001, both the killers were released and given new secret identities.
However, in 2010 Venables was jailed for two years after admitting downloading and distributing indecent images of children.
It later emerged that Venables is back in jail after allegedly being caught with more vile child abuse images.
In February 2018, he admitted having a sick paedophile manual which instructed him on how to "have sex with little girls".
The sick killer, who also pleaded guilty to having more than 1000 indecent images of children, was jailed for 40 months.
Thompson has not reoffended since being released on parole when he turned 18.
His identity is protected by a worldwide injunction, so little can ever be reported about him.
However, it emerged in 2006 that he was in a stable gay relationship and had settled well into his local community in the north-west of England.
It is believed Thompson remains in a long-term relationship with a man who knows his real identity.