Jon Venables’ mugshot is one of the most recognisable – and disturbing – images in criminal history. His dark eyes and youthful face give no indication he was capable of torturing and murdering two-year-old James Bulger – and yet that’s exactly what he did.
This image became the one we picture when the murder is discussed, just as Jon Venables became the focus of discussions about the crime and the trial. But there was another mugshot taken that day, and another boy found guilty of this unbelievably despicable crime.
So why is no one talking about Robert Thompson?
The now-36-year-old was co-accused in the crime and equally found guilty of luring James away from New Strand Shopping Centre in Liverpool, England on 12 February 1993 before beating him to death. They left the toddler’s body on a railway line for police to discover two days later.
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On 24 November 1993, Thompson and Venables, then aged 11, became the youngest convicted murders in modern British history. They served eight years in jail and were released on life-long parole in 2001, given new identities at the time.
But while Venables would later break his parole in 2010 and again in 2017 after being caught with child abuse material, Thompson has lived incident-free and out of jail.
Because of this, there’s not a lot known about Thompson’s post-prison life. However, in 2006 it was reported he was in a long-term relationship with a man who knows who knew he really was and that they lived in the North West of England. This was not confirmed and it is not known where he now lives.
Robert Thompson’s early life
More details are known about Thompson early life. He was fifth in a family of seven children. The Guardian reports when he was five years old, his father abandoned the family, leaving his mother, Ann, devastated.
It’s also reported that Ann used alcohol to cope and became depressed, even attempting to take her own life. Thompson’s home life was described as “chaotic” and while he had no legal record before his 1993 conviction, he and his siblings reportedly violently fought with each other.