James Bulger killer Robert Thompson said he is “deeply ashamed” of what he did in a grovelling parole apology to the toddler’s devastated family.
Thompson and Jon Venables were locked up in 1993 when they were 10 years old for murdering the toddler after abducting him from a shopping centre.
James’ body was found mutilated on a railway line and the crime remains one of the most notorious of all time.
Both served eight years behind bars before being released in 2001 on a life-long licence. Controversially, they were given new identities and in a documentary set to air tonight, Thompson reveals his shame and disgust at being involved in a crime which horrified the nation.
A Parole Board decision in June that year recommended Thompson and Venables, both then 18, be released on a lifelong licence and they were freed under new identities.
Thompson’s statement is revealed for the first time in tonight’s Channel 5 documentary James Bulger: The New Revelations.
Thompson said when he and Venables left the Strand shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, he “became aware Jon Venables had a little boy with him”.
Of CCTV images showing James being led off, Thompson said: “I very much regret that I did nothing to stop it at this time and the sight of those photographs fills me with shame and revulsion.”
But he denied they sexually assaulted James before killing him.
He added: “Jon Venables and I did not speak to each other at all, as I remember, during the attack. And we didn’t speak about it after we left James Bulger on the railway line.”
Thompson, now 36, said he did not admit his crime at the time because he was scared of reprisals.
Writing of when he and Venables first appeared in court, he said: “I could hear people shouting and chanting, ‘Hang the bastards’ and screaming at the policemen to ‘Hand them over’.”
He said he feared he would always face the risk of violence if his identity was ever revealed.
He said: “I know that the manager has been told that they ‘are waiting for me’, and I know what that means.”
The documentary also reveals details of Thompson’s home life, claiming he was subjected to violence.
In his statement, he said: “At that time of my life, I was completely out of control and spending time with a group of friends whose main occupation was committing crime and causing trouble.
“I was out of control because my life on the streets was better for me than my life at home – there was nothing for me at home.”
Pleading for release, he said: “I do feel aware that I am now a better person and have had a better life and a better education than if I had not committed the murder.
“There is obviously an irony to this, but it is part of my remorseful feelings as well. I, personally, wish Mr and Mrs Bulger and their families to know that I am desperately sorry for what I did, and aware of the enormity of what I did.
“Mr and Mrs Bulger have made statements in the press indicating that they would view any statement of remorse by me as a cynical manoeuvre to secure my release. It is difficult, given that, to see how I could ever communicate my remorse in an effective way.”
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