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U.K. tot killer charged with child porn offenses

Jon Venables
Jon Venables, shown here in 1993, was convicted of murdering toddler James Bulger in 1993, when he himself was 10 years old. He's now been  charged with child pornography offenses. AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

British prosecutors said Monday that a man convicted of murdering a toddler in 1993, when he himself was just 10 years old, has been charged with child pornography offenses.

Jon Venables, 27, has been charged with downloading and distributing indecent photographs of children. Venables was indicted earlier, but the charges could only be reported Monday after a judge ordered some reporting restrictions lifted.

Prosecution lawyer Gavin Millar read the charges out for the record at London's Central Criminal Court. He said Venables is accused of downloading onto his computer 57 indecent photographs of minors between February 2009 and February this year, and of distributing seven indecent images of children over the Internet between Feb. 1 and 23 this year.

Venables and another 10-year-old, Robert Thompson, lured 2-year-old James Bulger away from a shopping center in Liverpool in 1993 and beat him to death by an isolated railway line.

The crime shocked Britain because of the ages of the victim and his baby-faced killers, and was seared into the national memory through closed-circuit video footage of the two older boys leading the toddler away to his death.

Venables and Thompson were released from juvenile detention in 2001, when they were 18, and given new identities, which the press is barred from revealing — a rare and highly controversial move.

The case continues to arouse strong feelings. While some applauded the decision to release the young killers and hailed their apparently successful rehabilitation, others, including Bulger's parents, argued they should never have been freed.

Venables was taken back into custody in February for violating his parole conditions. Officials then would not give details of his alleged offense, saying it could prejudice any future trial.

Venables is due to attend a court hearing July 23, when he will appear by video link from prison.