James Bulger killer Jon Venables has parole bid rejected

Jon Venables, one of James Bulger's killers, will not be released from prison, the Parole Board has said.

The decision to reject his bid for parole was made by a panel following a two-day hearing held behind closed doors.

"The panel was not satisfied that release at this point would be safe for the protection of the public," the Parole Board said.

"It noted the risks as set out above, doubted Mr Venables' ability to be open and honest with professionals, and concluded that there remained a need for him to address outstanding levels of risk, and to develop his relationship with his probation officer."

A spokeswoman for James's mother Denise Fergus said: "This is the day Denise has waited for for years.

"The prospect of him coming out was terrifying as we knew he'd harm again. This is a day we celebrate and we thank the Parole Board for making the correct decision."

Venables was jailed alongside Robert Thompson in 1993 for the murder of two-year-old James, when they were both aged 10.

The pair were given life sentences but were released on licence with new identities in 2001.

Venables, now 41, was sent back to jail in 2010 after indecent images of children were found on his computer and served another three years before being recalled again in 2017 for the same offence.

Justice Secretary Alex Chalk said: "James Bulger's barbaric murder was a crime that shocked the nation and I welcome the Parole Board's decision to keep his killer behind bars.

"Public protection is our number one priority which is why I opposed Jon Venables' release and this government is reforming the parole system to introduce a stronger ministerial check on the release of the most dangerous offenders."

Read more from Sky News:
Murder arrest after triple stabbing that killed man
Unplanned parachute stunt led to death of Red Devils member

Caroline Corby, the chair of the Parole Board for England and Wales, had ruled proceedings should take place in private because of a long-standing legal order that bans the public identification of Venables.

James's family were barred from attending, although victim impact statements were considered.

Venables refused to give evidence during the latest hearing because permission had been granted for a lawyer representing his victim's relatives to listen to the proceedings.

He was "not comfortable discussing some aspects of the case with the family representative listening" and instead asked the panel to consider his review based solely on written evidence, according to parole papers.

Venables will be eligible for another parole review in around two years' time.

James was snatched from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, on 12 February 1993.

His body was found on a railway line after he had been beaten to death with bricks and a metal bar.