Oh, this could get me into trouble...
Apologies for the extended absence. If you watch the business news, you will know the industry I work in and the company I work for has had some unfortunate moves recently, and my focus has been solely on trying to work out if I’ll still have a job at the end of it. The good news is, I will. The bad news is, I don’t know where in the organisation yet. It feels awfully like what happened when I was made redundant from Boots a few years back – but not quite as bad.
Actually, a lot of things in the news recently have brought back memories of the past. Take, for example, the recent press reports about a young man named Jon Venables. To many, the name may mean nothing, but for those who were around in the early 80’s it means one thing – Jamie Bulger, a two year old boy who was taken from a shopping centre in Bootle in 1993 and killed by two ten years old, Robert Thomson and Jon Venables. The two boys were convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, but were released on licence in 2001 after various court rulings. Both boys were given new identities and strict limits were placed on where they could or could not go – including banning them from Liverpool.
The case caused much discussion at the time, particularly as the boys were so young and the fact they were tried in an adult court. As they were released on licence, it also meant if they were suspected of any sort of crime, or of any act that would present a danger to the public, they could be recalled to prison at any time without warning.
Last week, it was announced that Jon Venables had been recalled to prison for “serious offences.” Since that time, there has been much speculation as to the nature of those offences, and also the fact that no further details have been officially released.
Herein lies the quandary – if more details are released, then the identity this young man has been living under is blown, and that contravenes certain rulings at the time of their trial and release. It also virtually guarantees that there is no way he can get a fair trial if these offences lead to a new court case- the prejudice against him would be so strong it would be next to impossible to guarantee an unbiased jury.
On the other hand, if there is evidence he has committed a truly serious offence, then there has to be a trial to establish his guilt or innocence, and in the UK that is trial by jury. You see the dilemma? I hope so – and no, I don’t have an easy answer. I have a view on the subject, but that is a private affair.
You see, there is another person to consider in this as well – the other young man, Robert Thomson. If, as indeed may be the case, the name Venables had been living under becomes public knowledge, then there is a very real chance Thomson will be found and named. For all any of us know, he may be trying to rebuild his life and has genuinely atoned for his past crimes – would it be right and proper for him to be exposed and forced into hiding as well?
The people I feel most sorry for, however, and the parents of Jamie Bulger. They have had old wounds, which will never fully heal, opened afresh. They have made their views clear, and deserve to know what exactly is going on here. I hope someone has told them and asked them not to pass this on – vigilante justice is not the right way forward, but they have a right to know.
Is this all that’s brought my out of hiding? Nope – but they’re for another day. There’s also an election coming up here – with your permission, when it’s called I’ll use this to express my views on the events of the campaign as they arise. I’ll share some of my thoughts on what I call the “Phony Campaign” tomorrow.