The mother of British toddler James Bulger, whose gruesome killing at the hands of two older children decades ago shocked the nation, has expressed outrage at a new film about her son’s murder.
Denise Fergus told The Mirror that she is calling for a boycott of the new short film, which is said to try and show the “human side” of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, the two convicted killers who were found guilty of kidnapping, torturing, and murdering 2-year-old Jaimie when they were just 10 years old.
Fergus has also called for the film to be removed from the Oscar shortlist and accused its director Vincent Lambe of trying to “big up his career in someone’s grief.”
“I’ve not watched it,” Fergus said on the British talk show “Loose Women,” “it takes you right back to the day and that’s what I don’t want to do anymore.”
Venables and Thompson kidnapped the little boy from a shopping mall in Bootle in 1993, led him to a remote area, and subjected him to torture. The toddler’s battered body was discovered near train tracks.
The duo served eight years for murder before being released in 2001 with new identities and lifelong anonymity, sparking a public outcry.
Venables was sent back to prison in 2017 after he was suspected of having images on his computer relating to child abuse.
Lambe, the mastermind behind the film, titled “Detainment,” told The Sun that his intention with the project was to “humanize” the killers in order to explore what factors could cause human beings to commit horrific crimes.
“A lot of people might feel it’s wrong to humanize those boys but I think if people can’t accept the fact that they were human beings they will never be able to begin to understand,” Lambe said, “And the only way to prevent something like this happening again in the future is to understand the cause of it.”
‘Cut Up and Offended’
Fergus appeared on the British television show “Loose Women” with her husband Stuart and blasted Lambe for keeping the family out of the loop.
“James’s family should have been informed on the short film, which is now on the shortlist for the Oscars,” Fergus said on the ITV talk show, “They should have got in touch with the family and let us all know.”
“In my own personal opinion,” Fergus said, “I think he’s just trying to big his career up and to do that under someone else’s grief is so unbelievable and unbearable, especially for the family.”
Lamb was interviewed on “Good Morning Britain,” a television show, and admitted that prior to embarking on the project, he did not notify Fergus nor Ralph Bulger, the father of the murdered toddler.
The 52-year-old Bulger was cited by the Daily Star as saying, “Not once has the maker of this film contacted me or any of James’s family about this film.”
“It has been 26 years since my son was taken and murdered and so I have seen many documentaries and news stories about him,” he said, “but I have never been so cut up and offended by something that shows so little compassion to James and his family. I accept this is a murder of such magnitude it will always be written about and featured in the news but to make a film so sympathetic to James’s killers is devastating.”
The former police chief who led the murder investigation, Albert Kirby, was cited by the paper as saying the film had been made without any consideration for the impact on the victim’s family. He added the film lacked “any form of taste or decency.”
‘Unbelievable and Unbearable’
Jaimie’s mother told the interviewers, “I have three men to look after, I just want to put my time an effort into them and the charity I’m running—I don’t want to keep going back there every time. … I don’t think he had the right to do it anyway.”
“I’m saying people to boycott it as it shouldn’t have been made in the first place without James’ family’s permission,” she added.
Lambe was cited by the Daily Star as saying he has offered to meet “in private” with the family and apologize for any harm done. Fergus revealed the director also offered to donate money from the screenings to her charity.
“I don’t want the money,” she insisted, “we will raise the money for the charity ourselves.”
She questioned whether his gesture was genuine, saying, “He’s got a lot of bad publicity—he wouldn’t have offered the money.”
Jaimie’s father has also called for a boycott of the film, which he called “heartless.”