Sunderland dad sorry for Bulger killers identity breach

Jon Venables

Jon Venables

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A DAD who used Twitter to breach an injunction banning the revelation of the new identities of Jamie Bulger’s killers claims he did not “realise” he was breaking the law.

Dean Liddle, of Sunderland, admitted putting photos on the social networking site which purported to depict Jon Venables and Robert Thompson as adults.

The 28-year-old dad yesterday received a nine-month prison sentence, suspended for 15 months, after disclosing the photos to 950 followers on his Twitter page.

Using the name “Opinionated Dad”, Liddle, a city graphic designer, had the post up for about an hour in the early hours of the morning, two days after the 20th anniversary of the toddler’s murder.

Liddle appeared at the High Court in London where he admitted breaching the January 2001 injunction.

The order, binding on the whole world, was imposed before Venables and Thompson were released, and prohibits the solicitation or publication of any information purporting to identify their physical appearance, whereabouts, movements or new identities.

The schoolboys were convicted of murdering two-year-old James in Merseyside in February 1993. They were jailed for life, but released in 2001 and given new identities.

Liddle appeared alongside Neil Harkins, of East Yorkshire, who put the photos on Facebook in February this year.

Sir John Thomas, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, and Mr Justice Tugendhat said the pair knew what they were doing was wrong, and it was no excuse that others were doing it.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said the public interest required its enforcement to mitigate the “very real risk of serious physical harm or death” to anyone who might be identified, whether correctly or incorrectly, as being either of the killers.

Liddle later said in a letter that he said he had not realised how serious the situation was, the court heard. Leaving court yesterday, he said: “I am just going to go home and see my son.”

The Attorney General said after the ruling: “An internet posting takes seconds, but can have major consequences.

“These people were fully aware that there is an injunction in place which prevents publication of any images or information claiming to identify anyone as Jon Venables or Robert Thompson, yet they carried on.

“It has been in place for many years and applies to both media organisations and individuals.

“It is irrelevant whether the postings in this case were of who they claimed to be.

“The order is meant not only to protect Venables and Thompson but also those members of the public who have been incorrectly identified as being either of them.”

It is the first time the attorney-general has issued contempt proceedings over the use of social media, although people have been fined for breaking the law on Twitter or Facebook in several high-profile cases.

Venables and Thompson were 10 years old when they abducted two-year-old James in Bootle, Merseyside, before torturing and killing him.

They were convicted later in the year, and both released in 2001, receiving a new secret identity and address.

Venables was jailed for two years in July 2010 after admitting downloading and distributing indecent images of children. He has been refused parole.