Second identity for Bulger killer after jail release

JON Venables, one of toddler James Bulger's killers, is to be granted another new identity on his release from jail for child pornography offences.

• Venables: let out in 2001. Photograph: PA

Venables, 27, will be issued with a new birth certificate, national insurance number and other documents.

The news emerged as the government ordered a review into the handling of Venables since he and accomplice Robert Thompson were let out of custody in 2001 and given new identities to protect them.

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A three-month probe, led Sir David Omand, was ordered after Venables was jailed for two years for downloading and distributing child porn and it emerged he had been arrested for fighting and cocaine possession but not returned to prison, possibly because officials didn't know who he was.

The killers were ten when they abducted two-year-old James in Merseyside and killed him in 1993.

Ministry of Justice sources are said to be believe it is "inevitable" Venables, who will be eligible to apply for release on licence within 12 months, will have to be given another new identity as his "secret" alias is now so well known, even though such a move will land the taxpayer with a bill of around 250,000.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: "Such a change of identity is extremely rare and granted only when the police assess there is clear evidence of a sustained threat to the offender's life on release into the community."

Experts have cast doubt on the rehabilitation programme Venables received in custody, and his supervision on release. David Holmes, senior forensic psychologist at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: "He has committed minor offences in different areas and these added together put a clear picture of someone who should probably not have been released in the first place."

But Diana Fulbrook, head of public protection for the Probation Chiefs' Association, said: "There was a decision made not to charge him because the evidence at the time wasn't clear who was actually involved in it."

Venables was living and working in Cheshire when dozens of hard-core images, involving children as young as two, were found on his computer earlier this year.

The Old Bailey heard how Venables was only caught after he alerted his probation officer his identity had been discovered. He managed to delete images and films with titles suggesting they involved child pornography. When the probation officer arrived, Venables was trying to remove the hard drive with a tin opener.

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Venables pled guilty to three charges of downloading and distributing child porn, was banned from using a computer or the internet for five years and will be placed on the sex offenders' register for ten years when finally released.