Denise Fergus, whose toddler son James was tortured and killed by Venables and his accomplice Robert Thompson, is now demanding a Government inquiry amid claims of a decade-long ‘cover-up’.Quite. She believes the establishment (by which she presumably means state employees) planned to release him no matter what.
And she questioned whether Venables would have been cleared for release in 2001 if the Parole Board had been aware of the incident at Red Bank secure unit in Merseyside.
What else could explain this?
The guard has not been prosecuted over the sordid episode, which took place when the killer was 17.Because if she had been, it would have had to be reported, there being no option of ‘super-injunctions’ at the time.
It was reported yesterday that five independent sources were aware of an incident of sexual misconduct – and Red Bank’s attempts to cover it up.So why was a predatory sex offender – which is what this woman was, since she was in a position of authority, something we are always told is significant – allowed to quietly slip away?
An inquiry into the events leading up to Venables’s recall to jail, conducted by Sir David Omand last year, made no mention of the episode. But Sir David confirmed at the weekend that he knew about the allegations.
Mrs Fergus said: ‘The Parole Board should go back to 2001 and review its decision on Venables since it was clearly based on lies and deceit.They claim they weren’t false, the abuse simply occurred outside of the period that the report covered:
‘I want a full inquiry to get to the truth about what went on while they were in those secure homes and how false reports were given to the judges.’
Ministry of Justice officials yesterday denied any cover-up. A spokesman said: ‘Sir David Omand’s terms of reference made it very clear that he was reviewing the management of Jon Venables from his release in June 2001 until his recall to custody in February 2010.’And simply turning a blind eye to any inconvenient details he uncovered from any period beforehand…
Perhaps most worrying for me is this bit: "Officials had been told that Venables – who is now back in jail for possession of child pornography – had been making good progress."
Good progress? Surely nobody is let out until they have made a bit more than "progress". Surely the burden of proof lies for the convict to prove that he/she is no risk to the public, not that he/she has made "progress" towards that state.
Given that we know that Venables was only found out this time by mistake because he thought his identity had been revealed, is it unreasonable to assume that he was perhaps not the golden boy while he was on the outside?
Heads should roll.
Lying by omission is still lying.
Er, are you serious Julia?
He had sex with an adult (duh) security guard. What would that prove other than that young men have a sex drive?
A disciplinary matter. But not proof of anything else about Venables.
Maybe he shouldn't have been let out. But the fact he had sex- once apparently- at the age of seventeen, has no rational bearing on that matter. It certainly isn't an indicator of his being sexually abnormal. And I'm utterly mystified how you get to the guard being a "sexual predator" if that is what you mean.
If anything it would be a case of "abuse" of Venables if you're into abuse narratives. (Him being a prisoner in the power of the guards, and all).
But no, sorry, this is just a bizarre point to be trying to make.
Ian, I think there is an issue of abuse at stake here - and it is one where, as you suggest Venables is the victim, not perpetrator. The woman was supposed to be looking after him and in one sense he was vulnerable (imprisoned and probably easily influenced by any nice word/gesture).
Moreover, her actions were probably criminal (it is an offence to have sexual activity with someone under the age of 18 if you are in a position of trust).
But in this case, it appears the right action was taken (she was suspended and it seems, though we can't be sure that she was probably struck off). Not sure prosecuting her through the courts would have been of any help to anyone.
It is telling, however, that certain parties appear quick to blame Jon Venables in this instance - when clearly here, if anything, he is the victim of someone who might have sexually manipulated a very damaged indivudal who was probably susceptible to any act of niceness.
People's rank hypocrisy never fails to make me wonder. If it had been a schoolgirl and a teacher, people would have no trouble referring to the girl as a victim. Because it is a notorious child-killer, he couldn't possibly be anything but in the wrong and guilty himself.
Well, it's like this...
Venables was supposed to be the flagship case for the Rehab industry. If he'd gone on to invent a car that ran on water, we'd never have heard the end of it, so now it turns out things were a little different, damn right we're going to mention it.
In the specific case:
i/ 'Completely Rehabilitated' John Venables showed total contempt for the system
ii/ The system let him do it without consequences
iii/ The super-sofistikeyted rehab staff turned out to include a bimbo with a bad boy fetish
iv/ Public servants conspired to conceal all of the above
In other words, even in a case where they know they're going to get public scrutiny, the rehab industry can't help but expose itself as a shambles.
I think the real story is that the powers that be were/are so determined to keep Venables identity safe that they were/are covering up the truth.
The child porn could not be kept secret, but is there more. And what about the other one?
He was a 17 year old who had spent his entire life since age 10 locked up in an institution. To suggest a sexual encounter showed 'total contempt' for the rules is actually putting a spin on things which is probably incorrect. We don't even know what the sexual activity was - he may not even have been a willing participant for all the info we have.
But even if it was 'consensual' in a wider definition; so is a teenage girl's sexual relationship with a teacher - it also shows wilful neglect of the rules. I think this claim is a copout.
As for consequences - the fact is, under law, Venables was NOT at fault - the staff member was. And there WERE consequences - she was sacked. I agree that perhaps she should have been prosecuted but to say there were no consequences for the guilty party is utter hogwash.
Again, it is little more than rank hypocrisy.
Mary Bell was apparently repeatedly raped while she was at Red Bank - by both staff and inmates. Wonder if that was her fault too?
I'm guessing some people might think so.
Uh oh. Guess someone's left a manhole cover off somewhere.
Until and unless there's any evidence that Venables was anything other than a willing participant, he's in exactly the same position as if he'd been caught downing a six-pack in the joint. It's called 'prison' for a reason.
Meanwhile,the more the apologists try and make out that Venables was a charming bunny-rabbit of a man unfairly targeted by da system, man, the more they're going to have to explain why anyone should trust the system if its so dysfunctional it can't stop unrepentant child killers being sexually harassed by the staff.
Sure sounds pretty broken to me.
you seem to have an odd understand of human behaviour. If any ordinary man were in prison, and a guard gave him a six pack of beer, would you blame him for drinking it? Would you think it normal behaviour for him to say, "oh no, that is against the rules, I will report you to the governor!"?
Of course prisoners have contempt for the rules. They're in fucking prison. They're not there by choice.
Would you really consider anybody to blame for the consumption of the six pack other than the guard? I certainly wouldn't.
So far as I can tell, this article is saying that Venables shouldn't have been let out because he broke the rules by having sex with this guard. But that would simply be bizarre. He was a prisoner who took advantage of a perk, like the beer. Unless, as can also be argued, he was a victim of coercion, in which case he is the abuse victim.
Either way, the tone of the article just does not make any sense. There might be lots of reasons why Venanbles shouldn't be allowed out, but this isn't one of them, is it?
I think what Denise Fergus was trying to explain (or maybe the Mail hashed it up) was that if the disgraceful sexual behaviour of the prison officer was hidden from the Parole Board, then they made a decision relying on the reports of Red Bank who were untrustworthy.
It may be that Venables was making good progress. It may also be that he was a danger to children but Red Bank was so anxious for him not to mention the activities of their staff that they would have said anything and were in effect compromised by their own behaviour.
So the behaviour of the Red Bank staff was not directly relevant to Venable's parole board but it affected how much reliance the Board should put on Red Bank's opinion.
To clear up the legal point: the 2003 Sexual Offences Act specifically created the criminal offence of sexual relations with someone under 18 to whom one was in a postition of trust i.e. teacher etc. (There are exemptions, but that's the general sweep of it).
As this was in 2001 the offence was related to abuse of trust rather than a sexual offence and was difficult,if not impossible, to prosecute.
This was far from the only instance of it; public attitudes to teachers having affairs with 6th formers had noticably hardened. You may recall that there was a right kerfuffle around Chris Woodhead. Wiki reminds us:
In February 1999 Woodhead addressed an audience of trainee teachers and was asked for his views on legislation to ban sexual relationships between pupils and teachers. His response was that such relationships, while regrettable, could be "experiential and educative on both sides", a remark for which he later apologised.
David Blunkett, that towering example of sexual propriety, continued to support Woodhead, despite Woodhead's ex-wife and ex-teaching colleagues saying they knew about his affair with a pupil when Woodhead was teaching the girl. Woodhead maintains he did not know her in that way until after she had left his school.
"Good progress? Surely nobody is let out until they have made a bit more than "progress". "
I know :( But two words: automatic reduction.
"Lying by omission is still lying."
Good point. And as a government agent, surely Sir David Omand had a duty to report this behaviour, rather than hide behind the terms of his review?
"He had sex with an adult (duh) security guard. What would that prove other than that young men have a sex drive?"
As anon (both of 'em) point out,
it's the fact that she had an authority figure standing to him. We are told over and over that this is verboten (as well as being a little creepy and predatory - doctor/patient?).
Yet, we see that the authorities don't even follow their own rules. Once again, it's the hypocrisy.
"And I'm utterly mystified how you get to the guard being a "sexual predator" if that is what you mean."
You don't find it has a suspicious 'ick' factor? What could an adult woman see in an institutionalised 17 year old criminal? Except perhaps vulnerability.
I'd rather not have someone like that walking around, perhaps free to take another job somewhere giving her access to other vulnerable people.
"People's rank hypocrisy never fails to make me wonder."
"iii/ The super-sofistikeyted rehab staff turned out to include a bimbo with a bad boy fetish"
Indeed. Not letting these sort of individuals near government operations should be Common Sense 101, shouldn't it?
"The child porn could not be kept secret, but is there more. And what about the other one?"
"Mary Bell was apparently repeatedly raped while she was at Red Bank - by both staff and inmates. "
Really? I haven't seen this claim anywhere.
"If any ordinary man were in prison, and a guard gave him a six pack of beer, would you blame him for drinking it?"
So, prison absolves someone of any obligations, any responsibility?
Like you, I thought that attitude was one of the reasons they were there in the first place!
If we don't tolerate it outside, why give them a free pass inside?
"There might be lots of reasons why Venanbles shouldn't be allowed out, but this isn't one of them, is it?"
Actually, I make no mention in the post of my thoughts on release of Venables. It's purely about the rank incompetence, bordering on criminality, of the prison service.
"...if the disgraceful sexual behaviour of the prison officer was hidden from the Parole Board, then they made a decision relying on the reports of Red Bank who were untrustworthy."
Spot on! And no-one seems eager to open that can of worms.
Why not? Are they aware there'd be a lot more worms than the label indicates are supposed to be in the can?
Yes, Mary Bell suffered quite serious sexual abuse in Red Bank apparently. (Red Bank was long the subject of abuse enquiries going back decades).
Thing is, the kids at these places have done the worst things. The staff could get away with abuse because the fact is, no one would care if the young people in these units were subjected to crimes themselves. They are society's failings. They probably wouldn't even get people to believe them.
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