Brothers, 10 and 11, charged with attempted murder of schoolboys
The Crown Prosecution Service said yesterday that the pair, aged ten and 11, were to appear in an adult court.
The case has been likened to the killing of Liverpool toddler Jamie Bulger. His killers, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, were convicted of murder and spent eight years in youth custody. They were released in 2001 with new identities.
The two brothers, who are accused of attacking and robbing a nine-year-old boy and his 11-year-old uncle in Edlington, Doncaster, last Saturday, appeared before magistrates at the town's youth court yesterday. The pair, who cannot be named, showed no emotion as they stood in the dock with three security officers.
The older boy wore a red England football shirt and his younger brother a grey Umbro T-shirt as the charges of attempted murder and robbery were read out.
They both face the same four charges: that they attempted to murder the two boys and that they robbed each of the youngsters on the same date.
They are accused of taking a mobile phone from the younger boy and 5 from the older boy.
The victims were alleged to have been tortured with knives, including a craft knife, bricks and cigarettes.
The boys were seated for most of the hour-long hearing, the younger one straining to see over the bar on the glass-fronted dock. His brother, who was separated from him by one of the male security staff, changed his shirt during a short break.
The pair answered a series of questions from District Judge Jonathan Bennett about their dates of birth and whether they understood the charges.
They were refused bail and remanded into secure local authority care, and will appear in court again next Tuesday.
Police were called at 2pm on Saturday, when the nine-year-old boy was found wandering, covered in blood. He told the people who found him where his uncle was, and he was discovered semi-conscious in a nearby wooded ravine.
The boys are being treated in Doncaster Royal Infirmary. The younger one was reported to have had a third operation on his arm yesterday.
The elder boy, who had life-threatening injuries, was said to be "stable and improving".
The two victims were thought to have been attacked as they played on bikes in an abandoned quarry.
The 11-year old's parents yesterday thanked the community for supporting them during their "traumatic time".
In a statement issued through South Yorkshire Police, they said: "We would like to thank all the community for their help in finding our son and for all their continued support through what is a very traumatic time."
It was also reported yesterday that other parents had come forward, claiming their children had been attacked by the two boys.
One week before Saturday's attack, Callam Flett, an 11-year-old choirboy, was allegedly lured to the same spot and beaten. His parents claim that police did not take the assault seriously and that the suspects were questioned only hours before they are accused of attacking again.
The mother of the two accused boys is claimed to have said that the attacks were nothing to do with her.
She reportedly shouted through the letterbox of her home: "It's got nowt to do with me – they weren't even in my care."
Gareth Williams, the director of children's services at Doncaster Council, said the case had been referred to a "safeguarding children's board", for a full review to be carried out. "Our hearts go out to the victims and their families who are having to deal with the aftermath of this appalling situation," he said.
"We will ensure any support we can offer them is available for as long as is necessary."
He went on: "We cannot make any specific comments about the case as there are ongoing legal proceedings. However, it is crucial that people understand this is a one-off, rare incident that we are taking very seriously."