Why the James Bulger case receive more attention (negative) than Mary Bell?

The James Bulger case wasn't the first time a crime was committed by a child under 12.

Mary Bell was 11 years old when she strangled 2 toddlers to death. Yet, there were people that were more understanding (some even assumed she was horrible abused, which is true) than the ''hang those bastard, burn them'' on the other one. Jon and Robert were 10, a year younger than Mary Bell.

From my understand all of those cases were children from either abusive or dysfunctional households. But why was one case treated with a level of sympathy (her age was considered too) and the other with eternal condemnation.

5 Answers

  • 1 month ago
    Best answer

    A number of different reasons, I think.

    The two cases happened 25 years apart and the levels of media exposure were different. Apart from those of us who are interested in true crime and those over a certain age, who's even heard of Mary Bell? Whereas everyone in the UK has heard of James Bulger and Jon Venables.

    Mary Bell was physically and sexually abused in her childhood, her mother (a prostitute) forced her to do sexual acts with her clients from a very young age. I don't believe Jon Venables had a particularly bad upbringing, although Robert Thompson did have a rough upbringing.

    There was perceived injustice when Bulger's murderers ended up serving 8 years in custody. They never did time in an actual prison either, whereas Mary Bell did 12 years, including a few years in an adult women's prison, despite the fact she was convicted of manslaughter, not murder. The whole concept of rehabilitation was under scrutiny with the Bulger killers.

    Mary Bell has also managed to live a mostly quiet life since her release and to our knowledge, has never re-offended. The same is true of Robert Thompson, but Jon Venables brought the whole case back into public limelight when he was caught with child porn in 2010 and then again in 2017.

    What Mary Bell did to those two boys was also very horrific, by the way, she did not just strangle them, she mutilated one boy's body with a pair of scissors and attempted to cut off his penis, but that isn't something that is widely known, unlike what Thompson and Venables did to Jamie Bulger. Virtually everyone knows the grizzly details about that.

    I believe if the Mary Bell case happened in the 1990s or later, and reporting restrictions were lifted on naming her, it would probably be just as notorious as the Bulger killers. For that reason, as well as the expenses associated with giving and upkeeping their new identities, I don't believe a 10 or 11-year-old who murders a young child will ever be publicly named again, no matter how notorious or gruesome.

    • phonix1 month agoReport

      yeah Mary Bell was just as cruel too.
      She also taunted one of the boys' mother by knocking on her door and asking for Martin Brown. When the mother explained that he's dead, she replied ''I know he's dead. I wanted to see him in his coffin'' and had a smile.

  • Biff
    Lv 6
    1 month ago

    Mary Bell was deemed to have diminished responsibility and it was not claimed she tortured the two children she strangled. Among other things, Venables and Thompson kicked, stamped on and threw bricks and stones at Bulger before dropping an iron bar on his head. And Venables' behaviour since release from prison has attracted more attention to him.

    • phonix1 month agoReport

      Then I read that after the 2nd murder, she carved an M on the boy's body and tried to cut (or did) his genitals. Gross.............

  • 1 month ago

    Before James Bulger's body was discovered, there were a couple of days of 'missing child drama', as the press speculated what had happened to the missing toddler, especially with the grainy CCTV of him being led away by two youngsters. There was a perceived level of planning and cruelty in the Bulger case, which wasn't present in the Bell case. Perhaps more understanding was given to a female child murderer than male ones?

    Also, the nature of the British press had changed between the 1960s and the 1990s, with a much more sensationalist approach whipping up public opinion.

  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    The Bulger abduction was captured on CCTV and widely broadcast. The Mary Bell case was also widely reported in newspapers and TV of the time and I think her mother kept selling stories to the News of the World and other papers.

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  • 1 month ago

    Perhaps it was the torture of the little boy before they murdered him that has made people so bitter towards them. It was horrific what they did to him first.

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