A FORMER detective has expressed doubt that a child killer up for parole could be reformed.

Phil Roberts, a former Llanfyllin High School pupil, who played rugby for Welshpool Town, was a Detective Sergeant involved in the questioning of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson – the killers of James Bulger – in the weeks after the toddler’s murder.

This week Ralph Bulger, the father of James, said that one of his son’s killers could soon be released from prison with a new identity.

Mr Bulger told the Daily Mirror that the “predatory killer” formerly known as Jon Venables will be eligible for parole within weeks.

Two-year-old James was tortured and killed by Venables and Thompson, who were both aged 10, after they snatched him from a shopping centre in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993.

Mr Roberts, of Llanrhaeadr, who was called in to help with the investigation 26 years ago, organising a team of officers to arrest Venables, and heading up the team that arrested Thompson, questioned him and ultimately charged him.

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Speaking to the County Times Mr Roberts says given Venables’ convictions since, he is doubtful he will ever be reformed.

“He (Venables) has been given every opportunity to change his ways and it doesn’t appear to have worked.”

Mr Roberts added: “He seems to come under special consideration but they (the parole board) are not the ones who would be subject to any offences he may commit in the future.

“You just have to trust the conclusion they come to.”

Venables and Thompson were jailed for life but released on licence with new identities in 2001. Venables, 36, has been returned to prison in 2010 and 2017 for possessing indecent images of children. He is currently serving a 40-month sentence.

Half his sentence will have been served in October, with the Daily Mirror reporting a parole hearing will follow at a date to be determined by the Ministry of Justice.

Mr Roberts said he believes it is the family of James Bulger who should be given most consideration.

“I’m really more for the victims, than the offenders”, he said.

“It comes up every day. Every time something happens they are reminded – there is no way they can shake it off, they will always be affected.

“Where is the consideration for them? I feel so sorry for them.”