JAMES Bulger’s enraged family hit out last night at a feared cover-up over his depraved killer Jon Venables being freed.
They claim a parole bid by the brute — released with a new identity but locked up again for having child abuse images — has been “shrouded in secrecy”.
Horrified dad Ralph Bulger, whose two-year-old was snatched and mercilessly tortured to death by Venables and a pal when the pair were just ten, branded it “shameful”.
Venables, now 30, was back on the streets after serving less than eight years for James’s murder when he was caught with the sick images on his computer — flouting the terms of his life licence.
Tragic … James Bulger was murdered by Venables and Thompson in 1993
He was caged for two years — and six weeks ago Ralph made an impassioned plea at a parole hearing not to let him out.
The shattered father, 46, has heard nothing since and fears his words fell on deaf ears — with the “sick, predatory child-killer” poised to walk free at any moment, if he has not done so already.
Pouring out his anguish to friends, Ralph said: “James’s family deserves a little more respect than this.
“We are the ones who have to live with his dreadful loss every day.
“Yet we are the very ones being kept in the dark about what is going on.
“It is outrageous. It terrifies me that this decision is going to go against us this time and Venables will be a free man once again.”
Officials did pledge to tip off the family if Venables gets out — but just 60 minutes before everyone else.
The explanation for that — when previous decisions on James’s killers have seen relatives get days’ notice — was to avoid a “media furore”.
Ralph said grimly: “If they were going to keep him in, then there wouldn’t be a so-called ‘media furore’.
“I can’t help but fear the worst — that he is set to be free, which is why everyone is trying to keep it hushed up to the last minute.
“The only reason there will be a media furore is if there is something for the public to be angry about.”
He insisted that James’s family deserved “a little more dignity than this”.
Ralph said: “We have a right to be properly informed and in plenty of time to respond before it is released into the public domain.
“The public also has a right to know what is going on and yet everything is shrouded in secrecy. This should not be a political issue.
“This is about whether or not my son’s murderer is released back into society under another false identity.
“I cannot help but be suspicious — and question what the Government has to hide.
“Six weeks is a long time for the parole board to deliver their decision. I’m terrified that it indicates plans are being made for his release.
“Even more terrifying is the thought that he may already have been released from jail and we just don’t know it yet.”
Venables and his pal Robert Thompson lured little James away from his mum at a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside — then killed him for kicks. The horror in 1993 chilled the nation. But the two young murderers went on to spend less than eight years in a local authority secure unit.
Despite objections from their victim’s family, the pair were controversially released in 2001 with fresh identities — and a blanket ban on them ever being pictured.
Venables was arrested again in 2010 for downloading 57 images of children being sexually abused. Some were as young as two — the same age as James when he was murdered. Twisted Venables was jailed by a judge at the Old Bailey for two years.
But he can be kept behind bars for longer if deemed a danger to the public by probation officials.
Ralph said: “My position has never altered. Neither Venables nor Thompson should ever have been released in the first place.
“Now that Venables is back behind bars where he belongs I want him to stay there.
“He is a sick and dangerous predatory child killer. No one will be safe if he is released.
“I can only pray now that my worst fears are wrong and that the public are kept safe from this evil murderer by keeping him in jail.” A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “We do not comment on individual cases.”
20 years of beast’s life
Feb 1993: Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, ten, abduct and murder James Bulger, two.
Nov 1993: Venables and Thompson given life sentences.
March 1999: European Court of Human Rights ruled trying pair as adults was unfair.
Oct 2000: Lord Woolf cuts minimum term from ten to eight years.
June 2001: Venables and Thompson out after serving eight years.
Feb 2010: Venables is recalled to prison for breaching life licence.
July 2010: Venables gets two years for having 57 indecent images of children.
June 2011: Venables’ parole bid rejected.
May 2013: Second parole hearing is held.
By SARA PAYNE, Sun Justice Campaigner
THIS angers me so much. After all the heartache, keeping James’s family in the dark about what is happening to one of their son’s killers is simply wrong.
Why are the family not being told? Why has it taken the parole board six weeks to deliver its decision? It sounds like another part of a secret-keeping culture.
Legal chiefs want to avoid a “media furore” by keeping the decision secret but are causing further heartache for the victim’s family when these processes should be open and honest.
After all, it is the families of murder victims who matter most.