A photo is circulating across the Internet that claims to show one of the perpetrators of the murder of James Bulger that occurred in 1993 the UK.
The photo claims to depict Jon Venables – one of two children that killed James Bulger in 1993 – as an adult. Both Jon Venables and Robert Thompson were given new identities after being released from prison and the UK courts have prohibited media from publishing information concerning their identities.
The photo (pixelated out) is circulating with the below caption.
THIS IS JON VENABLES AS HE LOOKS TODAY, HE IS BACK BEHIND BARS FOR INDECENT IMAGES SHARE THIS AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE AS THIS PHOTOGRAPH I POSTED THIS MORNING WAS REMOVED…..
This is not the first time photos have circulated social media purporting to show either of the Bulger killers. Since the men were released from prison in 2001 aged 18, dozens of images claiming to show adult photos of the killers have circulated online. Often, the only evidence provided to support the assertion is vague similarities between the person in the image when compared to photos of the killers when they were children. In other cases, no evidence or justification is provided at all.
In this case, the above photo that we have pixelated has been spreading on and off across social media for a number of years.
Sharing photos purporting to show the killers of James Bulger is excessively reckless. Over the years, innocent people have had their lives turned upside down after being pointed out by the angry mob, more concerned with exacting vigilante revenge than getting their facts straight. For example in 2010 David Calvert was hounded for months after being wrongly targeted and had to move house. In 2012 a man was reportedly driven to suicide after being wrongly identified as Robert Thompson.
The prospect of sharing a photo that could potentially identify an innocent person should be enough to stop any responsible social media user from uploading or sharing a photo purporting to show the Bulger killers. However, sadly, social media has more than its fair share of irresponsible users, and many have blindly trusted a Facebook post and helped circulate it online.
If the chance that you’re potentially ruining an innocent persons life isn’t sufficient deterrent to think twice before hitting share, then the fact that you’re breaking the law and could end up being prosecuted for contempt of court should. It is illegal to upload or circulate information asserting to show either Jon Venables or Robert Thompson, even if the information you’re sharing is inaccurate. This is something that both Neil Harkins, of East Yorkshire, and Dean Liddle, of Sunderland discovered after publishing information claiming to identify the Bulger killers. Both received 9 month sentences suspended for 15 months.
We don’t recommend spreading photos claiming to identify the Bulger killers. Not only is it illegal, you run the chance of sharing photos identifying innocent people.