Jon Venables, one of two men who murdered James Bulger when they were children, has been refused parole over his conviction for possession of child abuse images.

The father of James, Ralph Bulger, said he could now “rest easy” after the decision, as he was “convinced” Venables would be released again.

In 1993, then 10-year-olds Venables and Robert Thompsonkilled James, two, after abducting him from the New Strand Shopping Centre in Bootle, Liverpool.

a close up of a man© Provided by The Independent
Both boys were jailed for life but freed on license with lifelong anonymity in 2001, when they were given new identities and moved to secret locations under a “witness protection”-style programme.

But Venables, now 38, was sent back to prison after indecent images of children were found on his laptop in 2010. He was released again in 2013, but returned to prison in 2017 for possession of child abuse imagery.

In April this year, the Parole Board confirmed it was determining whether a hearing should take place to decide if he should be released. It is understand he will now have to spend two more years in jail before he can apply for parole again.

Mr Bulger told The Mirror: “This is the first time every that the right decision has been made regarding my son’s killers.

“I am so relieved because I was convinced he was getting out – just as he has done before.”

He maintained that Venables “is a dangerous predatory paedophile” who should never be released from prison, “but no one has listened until now”.

“It will never be safe to free him and I hope that they enforce his life license and keep him locked away forever now,” added Mr Bulger.

Venables and Thompson, who brutally tortured and killed James, were the youngest convicted murderers in modern British history.