The murder of British toddler James Bulger was one of the most disturbing crimes in British history. His killers, Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, were just 10 years old when they were found guilty of torturing and killing two-year-old Bulger after kidnapping him from a Liverpool shopping centre in 1993.
Now, in scenes set to air in the United Kingdom on Wednesday evening as part of the James Bulger: The New Revelations documentary, Thompson admits he’s had a “better life” because of the murder.
According to the Daily Mail, the statement Thompson gave to the Parole Board in 2001 before he was released from prison and given a new identity is revealed for the first time in the documentary. While Thompson admitted that he’s ashamed of what he did, he also said it made him a better person because “he had a better life and better education” after spending eight years in detention.
“I do feel aware that I am now a better person and have had a better life and a better education than if I had not committed the murder,” he said, according to the Daily Mail. “There is obviously an irony to this but it is part of my remorseful feelings as well.”
The comments have not sat well with Bulger’s father Ralph, who told the publication he thought for 25 years his son’s killers had be rewarded and not punished for their horrific crime.
“The message here is horrific – kill a child and you will get a privileged and cosy life in return,” he told the Daily Mail.
He added that he didn’t think his son’s murderers had been properly punished and they had instead received a first-class education, counsellors and therapists from behind bars, while his family was “thrown to the wolves with our grief”.
The 51-year-old is concerned the civil treatment afforded to criminals in jail sends the wrong message and does little to punish them for their crimes.
According to The Mirror, Thompson also admitted in his statement that he was “out of control” as a child.
“At that time of my life, I was completely out of control and spending time with a group of friends whose main occupation was committing crime and causing trouble,” he said, according to The Mirror. “I was out of control because my life on the streets was better for me than my life at home – there was nothing for me at home.”
Also talking to The Mirror, Ralph said Thompson statement was “false words” and that he would never forgive him or Venables for killing his son.
Both Thompson and Venables were granted lifelong anonymity and each underwent rehab, although Bulger’s father and uncle previously launched High Court proceedings calling for Venables’, who is behind bars for possession of indecent images, anonymity to be lifted.