On the 30th anniversary of the murder of two-year-old James today, Michael Fergus insisted he will never forgive Venables and accomplice Robert Thompson for the heinous attack on his sibling. He spoke of his anguish at never getting to meet his older brother, saying Venables and Thompson “robbed him of his childhood”.
Michael has pleaded with Mr Raab, who said re-offenders like Venables – sent back to prison twice – would never walk the streets again under his new plans, to “keep to your word”.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Express, Michael, 29, said: “My brother’s killers will never be forgiven. They took away my older brother who I never got to meet. I would have loved to have looked up to him, asked him questions, talked to him about exams, cars, going to bars, normal stuff.
“But because of those two I never got the chance. They robbed me of my childhood, in a nutshell.”
He added: “For me personally, getting justice for James and keeping Venables behind bars would be more about giving us and particularly my mum peace of mind.
“For that to happen 30 years since losing James would be so fitting. The day that happens my mum will have a smile on her face that will never stop.” Michael also revealed that he gains inspiration from looking at pictures of his older brother every day and hopes he would be “proud of him”.
James was a month away from his third birthday when he was snatched by Venables and Thompson, both aged 10 at the time, from a shopping centre in Bootle, Liverpool, while his mother Denise bought two pork chops from the butchers.
His body was found within two days, two and a half miles away near a railway track. He had been tortured and murdered.
It was a crime that shocked the world – and left Denise and her family to pick up the pieces.
The child killers were convicted of murder in November 1993 and detained indefinitely. The pair were released aged 18 in 2001 after spending eight years in young offenders’ institutes with new identities.
Thompson, now 39, has not reoffended, but Venables was sent back to jail in 2010 and 2017 after being caught with child sex abuse images on his home computer.
He was turned down for parole in 2020 after serving his minimum 40 months’ sentence, but has made a new bid for freedom – something the family are awaiting news on.
Last year Denise met with Mr Raab at his offices in Parliament, where he laid out his plans for an overhaul of the parole system.
Under his plans a “two strikes and you’re in” scheme would be implemented – meaning a repeat offender like Venables would never be released.
Michael, who was born eight months after his older brother’s death, has told how despite 30 years passing he still feels nothing but distain for James’s killers.
He also criticised the way their identities had been protected while his family have lived in fear of them walking the streets again.
He said: “I try not to give his killers any time in my thoughts, but I still hate them for what they did. It’s disgusting the way they have been treated. They’ve basically been given everything they’ve ever asked for – new identities, homes, protection, special treatment.
“What for? They murdered a child. You’re telling me these days you get rewarded for hurting someone? I just don’t think that’s right at all.
“But what’s angered me more is seeing my mum and the way she is. Obviously she gets a lot angrier than I do.”
Michael added: “I wouldn’t even entertain thinking about meeting or writing to his two killers. They’re not part of my life so why should I entertain the two of them? I wouldn’t even bother writing their names. I wouldn’t even want to waste a breath on them, let alone spend any time with them.”
Landscape gardener Michael, who still lives close to Denise and her husband Stuart in the North West of England, says he has only known “life after James” but always felt the effects of the tragedy.
Before going to school Michael’s surname was changed to Fergus to protect him from questions from his peers.
In 2006 Stuart adopted Michael before their first family holiday abroad.
He said his mother did a brilliant job “normalising” life without James – never shying away from talking about him, telling stories or hanging pictures of him around the home. But it was impossible to protect him from everything.
The family will all get together at the grave today to pay their respects, remember their brother and support each other – three decades on. Michael said: “It will be a quiet, reflective time when we’ll all be together. It’s a time to think of James.”
After today the goal for the year is clear – to get justice for James by Mr Raab’s reform bill passing at Westminster.
He said: “Obviously growing up and knowing James is my older brother, it would be nice to see the justice he deserves.
“I don’t think Venables will ever see the light of day again. It feels victory could be close and may even come this year.
“But I know mum will never stop fighting. She’ll always go one step forward and nine times out of 10 she’ll get pushed two steps back. But she’ll always keep pushing forward and obviously I’ll support her 100 percent – every step of the way.”