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Anger at toddler killers' parole decision
LONDON, England -- The parents of murdered toddler James Bulger have reacted with disgust to a court ruling that allows his killers to be considered for parole in four months.
Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were 10 when they abducted the two-year-old from a Merseyside shopping centre and tortured and killed him in 1993.
James Bulger's mother reacted strongly to the Lord Chief Justice's decision that they should be eligible for parole after serving a minimum sentence of eight years -- which they will have done by next February.
"Thompson and Venables never gave James a chance, but it is like they are being rewarded for their crime," said Denise Fergus, who has divorced James' father and married again since the killing.
"They planned this. They planned it a couple of months before they did it. What they did to him has killed me."
James' father Ralph, who has also remarried, says he is planning to challenge the ruling.
He said Lord Woolf had ignored his representations about the term the boys should serve and said Venables and Thompson had never expressed any remorse to his family.
In a statement issued through his solicitor Robin Makin, Bulger announced that he would press the Home Secretary to set up an appeal process.
They could also seek a judicial review and would be making representations to the Parole Board about the actual release of the two boys.
Makin said: "Lord Woolf has completely ignored the will of the people and public opinion as to what the criminal justice system is all about."
Those involved in the case say the brutality meted out by the young killers was barely conceivable.
The police detective who was in charge of the investigation, Albert Kirby, said: "No one in their wildest dreams could have envisaged that two 10-year-old boys could have mutilated that tiny body to such an extreme."
At the Strand shopping centre in Bootle -- from where Thompson and Venables abducted James while his mother was in a shop -- passers-by opposed the decision.
"I cannot believe those two could be out in a matter of months. If it was my child that was murdered I would want them to stay in prison forever," said Elizabeth Byrne of Netherton, Merseyside.
Mother-of-two Jane Lawrenson, of West Lancashire, said she was shocked by the "leniency" of the tariff. "They need to be sent to an adult prison for a while," she added.
The pair have been held in separate local authority secure units because of their age and Lord Woolf's announcement marks only the start of a long road to resettlement.
Home Secretary Jack Straw will now formally refer the case to the Parole Board which must be satisfied that they are not a risk to the community and show suitable remorse.
When they are released the pair are likely to be given new identities for their own security and protection.
Reuters contributed to this report.
British toddler's killers eligible for release next year
European Court of Human Rights: 1999 Bulger Judgement
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