Marie Claire Australia - 01.05.2018

(Ben Green) #1


People often ask at what point I re-
alised James being with two kids wasn’t
going to end well and the answer is
never. Even after the funeral and the
thousands of letters, even during
the court case when those two boys
were standing trial for his murder. Even
then I thought he was coming home.
It was after the trial that my world
truly collapsed and the reality of never
seeing my baby again hit me.
It is important to say here that
I have never found out the exact nature
of all that was done to James in his final
hours and I never will – I know as much
as my heart can take.
We couldn’t view James. As the
funeral approached I did ask if I could
see him one last time, but I was advised
by the police not to. I didn’t get the
chance to touch my little boy, kiss him
goodbye or tell him how much I loved
him. Perhaps it was for the best, as my
imagination had already been working
overtime at the thought of what he
might look like after all that had
happened to him.
I picked his outfit the day before he
was collected from the mortuary and
moved to the undertakers. I decided on
the corduroy suit that he wore on his
last Christmas Day. I decided not to put
shoes on him, I’m not sure why.
I couldn’t face looking at the outfit
so a member of the family got every-
thing ready for the undertaker to
collect. They packed the suit neatly into
a bag along with his favourite teddy, a
toy motorbike and a torch – I remember
thinking that he always took his torch to
bed so that he could see in the dark and
not be scared, so it was really important
he had that with him in his coin.
I am not sure anything prepares
you for the sight of a tiny white box that
holds your lively, funny, cheeky son’s re-
mains – I could have seen it a thousand
times and it wouldn’t have been any less
shocking. Ralph and I cried until I
didn’t think there were any tears left.

As James’ third birthday [neared],
just four short weeks after his body had
been found, [my marriage to James’
father, Ralph] hit rock bottom. Not
only did I have the grief of losing James,
but Ralph just stopped coming home.
We couldn’t communicate; Ralph
was either drunk or out. And none of
this was helped by the fact that when
I was at my lowest ebb, I felt Ralph
blamed me for losing James.
I had lost my son and now I felt like
I was losing my marriage.
And then, just like a gift from God,
at the end of March I discovered I
was pregnant again.
Ye s , it was very soon after James’
death, but, in all honesty, if I hadn’t

been pregnant with Michael in those
early months after James’ funeral, I
wouldn’t be here today. The baby
became my lifeline; I didn’t know how
low it was possible for a human being to
go. Did I try to kill myself? Not quite.
Did I think about killing myself? Abso-
lutely. Very often and in great detail.


hen I attended the sen-
tencing of Venables and
Thompson, all I could
focus on was the mo-
ment I would see my son’s killers for the
first time. Suddenly there they were, my
worst nightmare come true – two
podgy, unremarkable children who had

stolen and murdered my baby. I had
built the moment up so much in my
head that nothing was ever going to feel
good enough. Looking at them, it all
seemed so pointless, such a waste for an
inexplicable and evil kick. My stomach
lurched and I felt sick.
It had been decided that eight years
was all my baby’s life was worth – that
wasn’t even a year for every hour his
severed body had lain on the track. It
was nothing and it was a disgrace.
They had snufed out my baby’s life
and they would be free to start theirs
at 18, when they would be eligible for
release. That was the age when people
flew the nest anyway and set out on
their adult paths; it was as if they were
being rapped on the knuckles and sent
to boarding school – I couldn’t accept it.

Michael James Bulger was born on
December 8, 1993. Just months later,
Denise’s marriage to Ralph collapsed.
I was devastated that we hadn’t
made it, but there was also another
reality: Ralph was the only other
person who could comprehend the utter
devastation I felt about our son.
In less than 18 months, my simple
and perfect life as a wife and mother
had imploded. The day that Thompson
and Venables stole my son from my
side, they lit a match underneath every-
thing I had and it all went up in flames.
Never in my wildest dreams had
I imagined a simple shopping trip with
James would end the way it did and, as
a result, I was terrified of everything.
The deep-seated paranoia and wor-
ry never left me, and I can see now that
it did get in the way of us enjoying some
things that other children took for
granted. It also meant that Michael was
never out of my sight – he slept in my
bed and we spent every minute together.
There was no playgroup or nursery, play
dates without me, staying over with his
cousins; I had him with me all the time.
Even now, Michael is in his 20s; if


“There is no
forgiveness in my heart
for my son’s killers”


February 12, 1993: James
is abducted and murdered.
His body is found two
days later.
February 20, 1993: Jon
Venables and Robert

Thompson are charged.
November 24, 1993: They
receive eight-year sentences,
making them the youngest
convicted murderers in
recent British history.

July 23, 1994: The original
term is increased to 15 years
but this is overturned.
June 24, 2001: Thompson
and Venables are freed and
granted lifetime anonymity.

March 2, 2010: Venables is
imprisoned for downloading
child pornography.
2013: After being granted
another new identity,
Venables is released.

November 2017: Venables
is recalled to prison
for possession of child
pornography. He is reported
to be engaged to a woman
who he met on the outside.
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