James Bulger’s mother has revealed her biggest regret as she relives the day her son was murdered in 1993.
Speaking 25 years after two-year-old James was abducted and killed, Denise Fergus said if she had “taken the right turn and gone around the corner” she would have seen her boy being led away by Jon Venables and Robert Thompson.
Denise said she still blames herself for “taking my eyes off him for that split second” and letting go of her boy’s hand when she went to look for her purse.
The mum added that she never left him outside the butcher shop on his own that day – the only time she let go of his hand was to pay.
Recalling the harrowing day, an emotional Denise said: “There aren’t the words to describe how I still feel now, every day. I was the one who let go of his hand; I was the one there meant to protect him.”
She added to The Mail on Sunday: “But do you know what my biggest regret is? That I didn’t turn right instead of left – if I had taken the right turn and gone around the corner, I would have seen James being led away, just four short minutes after he had left my side, trustingly holding hands with the boys who were about to murder him.”
Denise also recalled the grief of losing her first born, daughter Kirsty Bulger, who died soon after she gave birth to her in February 1989.
She said she thought that would be the worst day of her life.
“But two years later, leaving The Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, without my little boy’s hand in mine, well that was the worst thing of all,” Denise continued.
The mum stopped sleeping the day James was killed and hasn’t “had a full night’s rest since”.
In a crime that shocked the UK, Venables and Thompson were ten when they were caught on CCTV snatching James in Bootle, Merseyside.
The evil pair led him through traffic and along a canal towpath before battering him with an iron bar.
They poured paint into his eyes, stoned him and clubbed him with bricks, then left him on a railway line to be hit by a train.
The twisted pair were detained in custody indefinitely before being released on a life licence in 2001.
Countdown to evil pair being freed
1993, February 12: Two-year-old James Bulger is snatched during a shopping trip to the Strand centre in Bootle, Merseyside.
February 14: His battered body is found by children playing on a freight railway line, 200 yards from Walton Lane police station.
February 18: Two ten-year-old boys are arrested over James’s murder and later charged. They are the youngest charged with murder in the 20th Century.
November 24: Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, now 11, are given life sentences for killing James.
1994, June: Home Secretary Michael Howard is given a petition by James’s family, signed by 278,300 who believe the killers should never be released.
July: The eight-year sentence tariff set by the trial judge, which has been increased to 10 years by Lord Chief Justice Lord Taylor of Gosforth, is increased again to 15 years.
1997, June: Law Lords rule Mr Howard acted illegally in raising the killers’ tariff.
2000, October: Lord Chief Justice Lord Woolf reinstates the trial judge’s original tariff.
2001, January: The killers win an unprecedented court order from High Court judge Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, granting them anonymity for life.
June: The killers are freed under new identities.
2010 March 2: Venables is returned to prison after breaching the terms of his release.
2017 November: Venables is recalled to prison for a second time for allegedly hoarding indecent images. Calls are made for him to be unmasked.
2018 January: Venables will stand trial in private at an unnamed court for allegedly possessing indecent images of children.