Thursday, 20 February 2014

Baby Bulger: never forgotten

I can clearly remember as if it was yesterday when a small child went missing and was found murdered.

I was 9 years of age and yet now at 31 I still have the CCTV image from a Merseyside shopping centre fresh and clear in my head whenever I think of the incident.

On Monday I started to read a book which touched my heart, brought me close to tears, made me feel physically ill and furious. I read the book on my Kindle literally on my commute to and from work, on my lunchbreak and briefly before I went to bed. I finished it yesterday (Wednesday) evening on my way home.

The book? ‘My James: The Heartrending Story of James Bulger by His Father’. A piece of writing detailing the awful events of February 1993, describing the wonderful young child that was James, the huge impact the hideous incident had on the family and friends and the infuriating court battles and treatment the Bulger family faced.

For those that are not familiar, James Bulger went missing after mere seconds of his mother letting go of his hand in the butchers at a Liverpool shopping centre. What followed was infamous CCTV footage showing the 2 year old being led by the hand out of the complex by some young boys. The days after then turned into – for me – the most shocking of child murders in this country.

These two 10 year old boys abducted, sickeningly tortured and murdered the innocent toddler, leaving his small battered body on a train track to be run over.

I wanted to read the book as it has always been something close to my heart and as I’ve since explained to others I’ve never really forgotten what happened. It has always stuck with me and brought about extreme emotions. Whether this is because I was a similar age to the killers at the time I don’t know, but I feel I will never forget this awful tragedy and in turn the way the murderers were treated.

Ralph Bulger, the father of baby James, writes with complete honesty and I completely respected his style and approach – telling it like it is. No airs and graces, nor saying what people would feel is most politically correct. Like everyone I imagine, I’ve always felt for him and the family, but I respected him even further on reading the book.

I was very angry and disgusted at the time of the murder. On reading more details on what exactly the two ‘monsters’ inflicted on their victim I was even further sickened.

Time and time again I found myself infuriated, well, livid, at how obvious it was the boys knew they were doing wrong (psychological reports proved it) and there was no question they were the two individuals who had committed the acts.

So why were their rights such a big issue? Why was there any question whether to keep them locked up indefinitely?

In my mind, if you are capable of committing such atrocities you forego your rights and your age is irrelevant. This is not a case of a bit of a bicker/playground fight which went wrong by accident after all.

Going on to be reminded what happened around the time was harrowing enough, but when I read more detail from Ralph and his brother Jimmy on what they endured and moreover the lack of support they got from the legal system and authorities, it left me furious and saddened by how the country treated them.

The whole handling of the case and the victim’s family’s wellbeing really does seem to have been appalling.

Although it is so hard to read (seems ridiculous and offensive to say that when you think what the family went through!) I really would recommend people read this book. Ralph is honest, brave, down to earth and finally trying to rebuild his life all these years later.

A mix of personal anecdotes, excerpts from articles and court reports, honest additions by Jimmy and photos – you do feel really immersed in what happened.

I warn you though this will stay with you and will consume your thoughts. I thought I was upset at the time and angered? It’s all come flooding back yet again.

The quite frankly ‘joke’ of anonymity, the releases, the reoffending and child pornography case in later years. It leaves me reeling.

The heartbreaking thing about all this is that it’s all true and an innocent beautiful little baby boy died for no reason and in a horrendous way, regardless of age, court processes or rights.

Venables and Thompson took away any rights James Bulger had, so you tell me how in any shape or form is there any slight minute reason to need to consider their rights and wellbeing?