Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jury Convicts British Boys in Slaying

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Jury Convicts British Boys in Slaying

Article excerpt

Two 11-year-old boys were convicted and imprisoned indefinitely Wednesday for luring a toddler from his mother and beating him to death with bricks and an iron bar.

The savagery of 2-year-old James Bulger's death at the hands of the defendants, who were 10 at the time of the killing on Feb. 12, stunned Britain and set off nationwide soul-searching over the rise of juvenile violence.

"Yes!" the toddler's father, Ralph Bulger, said in a soft voice when the jury announced the guilty verdict. James' mother, Denise, appearing in court for the first time, said nothing.

Judge Michael Morland handed down an indeterminate sentence to Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who could be identified by the press during the trial only as Child A and Child B. Morland explained that they would be locked up "for very, very many years."

"In my judgment your conduct was both cunning and very wicked," Morland told the boys.

The boys showed no emotion when they heard the verdict, but both had obviously been crying when they returned for sentencing. Thompson took off his tie and breathed deeply. Venables sobbed while his mother patted him on the shoulder and handed him tissues.

Before the sentencing, defense lawyer Laurence Lee said Venables had asked him, "Would you please tell them I am sorry?"

Prosecutors said the boys dragged James more than two miles across Liverpool to an isolated railroad track.

Sixty-one people remembered seeing James struggling with his killers along the way, but only a handful intervened. Those who did were told that the boys were taking the child home or to a police station.

When they arrived at the tracks, the older boys punched and beat James with bricks and an iron bar, splattered him with blue paint and partly stripped him. When his body was found two days later, it had been sliced in half by a train.

Both boys had pleaded innocent, despite Venables' confession and Thompson's admission that he witnessed James' death. They can appeal, but their lawyers made no mention Wednesday of filing appeals. …

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