James Bulger's mother: I needed to see the faces of my son's killers

ITV News' Evening News Presenter Mary Nightingale sat down with Denise Fergus, who said Brianna Ghey's mother deserves to know who killed her child.

As Brianna Ghey’s teenage murderers are set to be identified at their sentencing hearing on Friday, and their faces revealed publicly for the first time, ITV News’ Evening News Presenter Mary Nightingale sat down with the mother of James Bulger, Denise Fergus, who insisted Brianna’s family deserve to know the identity of her killers.

It’s the dignity that strikes you immediately. The measured calm of a woman who has been through so much – has suffered such loss.

Denise Fergus faces the world with the implacable determination of a seasoned campaigner.

Nothing and nobody diverts her from her purpose – that of seeking justice for the child victims of murder, and their families.

Denise’s son James Bulger died 31 years ago – abducted tortured and killed by two ten-year-old boys.

Anyone old enough to remember the case will not have forgotten the desperation of the young mother, appealing for the return of her precious boy.

Denise Bulger sat down with ITV News’ Mary Nightingale. / Credit: ITV News

Photos of Denise’s anguished face, alongside that of her smiling blonde haired toddler, filled the front pages for months.

Once the killers, Robert Thompson and John Venables, were convicted, we became horribly familiar with their faces and names, too.

The judge took the unusual decision to identify the pair even though they were under 18. Their childish faces shocked the nation then – and still do.

Three decades later, I’m in Liverpool to get Denise’s views on another tragic case of children killing a child, this time, 16-year-old Brianna Ghey.

When Brianna’s teenage murderers are sentenced tomorrow, they too will be identified, their faces revealed publicly for the first time.

James Bulger was tragically murdered aged just two-years-old. / Credit: ITV News

It remains an unusual decision – and one that raises questions: What purpose does identification actually serve? Who benefits from knowing the names of these two deeply disturbed kids? The public may want to know – but do we need to know?

Denise is in no doubt. She believes it’s essential for us to understand exactly who the killers are and what they have done. Anything less, she believes, tells only half the story. We must have full knowledge to understand the crime.

Denise says she needed to see the faces of the boys who killed her James, the faces he saw in the final moments of his life.

That knowledge – however painful – brought her some degree of comfort.

She describes bereavement as a long road; which she and her family are still travelling.

As the Ghey case reaches its conclusion Denise hopes her experience can help Brianna’s parents on that terrible journey. If they need to talk, she’s there.

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