THURSDAY 8 FEBRUARY 2018
Continuing the new season of Crime and Punishment documentaries
“He always gets talked about every single day. I always say the day I stop speaking about James is the day I'm going to join him. He'll always be with me.” - Denise Fergus.
In February 1993 an unprecedented crime shocked Great Britain and reverberated around the world. Denise's son, two-year-old James Bulger was abducted from a shopping centre in Liverpool and brutally murdered by two 10-year-old boys. Sir Trevor McDonald broke the news to the nation in his role as anchor of ITV's News at Ten.
The story was one of the most disturbing of his long and distinguished career. He says: "I remember reporting the James Bulger case as a presenter for News At Ten all those years ago. What I'll never forget is the sense of horror at those CCTV images that showed James being led away."
Now Denise is inviting Trevor into her home, where the memory of James is everywhere. In a deeply personal interview Denise opens up, not only about the day that changed her life forever but about the eternity of a mother's love. Sharing memories, family photographs and videos, Denise remembers James fondly as "so loving, he was always laughing. He loved listening to music. He was just a lovely little boy." Trevor finds a family home where a child taken at such a tender age will never be forgotten.
She talks frankly about the split second she let go of James’ hand and the horror of the days that followed, the anger she felt at the sentence her son's killers received and the painful years she has spent fighting for the justice she feels James has never had.
As well as featuring Denise's full and frank testimony, Trevor speaks to key figures in Liverpool to gain a vivid insight into a case that continues to raise so many troubling questions. Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were the youngest children to be tried for murder in the 20th Century. Did the criminal justice system get it right? And what could possibly have driven two school boys to commit such a brutal act?
Retracing the route Jon Venables and Robert Thompson took James on that fateful day Sir Trevor meets Albert Kirby, the police officer who ran the investigation and gets his view on what drove the boys to kill. He hears first hand from one of the many witnesses who saw James with Thompson and Venables and still, 25 years later, lives with the guilt of not having intervened. He meets Jim Fitzsimmons, one of the first officers on the scene after James’ abduction and Phil Roberts, the officer who is still haunted by the custody suite interviews with Venables and Thompson, also shares his story.
Whilst Denise continues to grieve for her son, she tells of how she has tried to turn James' memory into a positive with the charity she has founded in his name. The James Bulger Memorial Trust helps children who have been bullied and families who are victims of crime. Denise explains, "I didn’t want James to just be remembered as the murdered child so I thought I could do something positive. I’ve got lots of good memories of James, that’s something no one will ever be able to take away from me. I try to remember all the good times I had with him and the charity has helped me do that. And it’s not just helped me but helped a lot of kids out there who are going through bad times in their lives."