Remembering James Bulger

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The Bulger family still lives on a council estate in Kirkby and on the surface of it very little has changed since Winifred last saw them two decades ago when the children who had abducted and killed two year old James were convicted of murder. But in the intervening years she often reflected on the case and wondered about what had happened to the large extended family and its campaign for justice for James. Meeting Ralph and his brother Jimmy again she is struck by how eager they still are to convey their one unwavering conviction: that a privileged elite has ridden roughshod over James's memory and grief to focus solely on what is best for his killers.

The family trust Winifred to tell their story because she comes from the same sort of background as them, interviewed them shortly after James's murder and also attended the trial. In his summing up the trial judge said the case had changed everyone who'd come into contact with it. The Bulgers have lost a dearly loved child, their peace of mind, privacy and sense of security. They're angry and disgusted about the way the authorities have treated them but perhaps saddest of all, they can't bury the horror of those memories, or even more poignant, forgive themselves for what they see as their failure to protect James and their defeat in their battles to defend his memory by keeping his killers incarcerated.

Ralph describes the waking nightmare he was caught in as the whole country attempted to analyse and probe the case - searching for answers about what made two children act in such a way. Much was made about how the kind of childhood Venables and Thompson had and how this might have been behind the brutal torture of a two year old boy. But as Ralph remarks, he himself grew up in a tough community and knew many children who had awful lives through no fault of their own but who did not go out and murder an innocent child.

He admits to the terrible dilemma he found himself in: wanting James's killers dead at the same time as being a father himself and never wanti
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