Worcestershire Woman Avoids Jail For Potentially Revealing I.D Of James Bulger Killer

1 February 2019, 07:46 | Updated: 1 February 2019, 07:53


A woman from Worcestershire has narrowly avoided jail after sharing information online thought to be about James Bulger's killer, Jon Venables.

36 year-old Natalie Barker from Kidderminster admitted breaching a worldwide ban on revealing Venables' identity by posting pictures and other details.

She was given eight months, suspended for two years.

The judge told the court there was a risk of someone being "killed or seriously injured", including anyone who was wrongly identified as one of the Liverpool boy's killers.

He said the "haunting images" of James Bulger being led to his death, aged two, by Venables and Robert Thompson, would "remain forever in the minds of anyone who saw them".

The judge added: "The murder shocked the nation, indeed it resulted in much soul-searching.

"How was it that two boys, still at primary school, could be capable of such a wicked crime?"

Barker, a single mother of three, previously admitted five breaches of the injunction and sat quietly behind her legal team throughout the hearing.

In February and March 2018, she posted a picture which purported to be of Venables and his fiance on her Twitter account, which had 649 followers.

The image was retweeted 24 times and received a number of likes, and she persisted even after receiving warnings from Twitter and the police.

Her lawyers said she now understood the seriousness of her actions, had expressed remorse and has closed her Twitter account.

A court order was made in 2001, legally binding worldwide, which bans the publication of anything that reveals the identities of Venables and Robert Thompson.

They have been living anonymously with new identities since being released from a life sentence for the kidnap, torture and murder of James in 1993, when they were aged 10.

Jonathan Hall QC, representing Attorney General Geoffrey Cox QC, told the court there continue to be significant breaches of the order, which often correspond with "spikes in media interest" in the case - including the 25th anniversary of James' murder in February last year.

He told the court: "There are potential consequences not only to Venables and Thompson but to persons who might be mistakenly identified as them.

"There are still those who seek to set themselves above the law and put individuals at risk of death or serious injury by taking it upon themselves to breach the injunction."

The court heard one man mistaken for Venables had "endured five years of danger" and he and his family had been forced to flee for their lives.