Just days before the 25th anniversary of her toddler son’s torture and murder at the hands of two ten-year-old boys, Denise Fergus has spoken of how writing a book about the tragedy has made her “feel so close to James”.
“I have worked so hard over the years not to exist in a world of pain,” she writes in a blog for HuffPost UK today.
“I have had to mentally box away so much that I was terrified to dust it all off and delve back into it for the book. But, actually, it has made me feel so close to James. As time has gone on, I have stopped my mind from imagining what James would be like as he played with his brothers. I try and concentrate on the present.”
James Bulger was killed in February 1993 by Robert Thompson and Jon Venables, who lured him away from his mother while she stopped at a butcher’s in the Strand shopping centre in Liverpool.
As Fergus’ book, I let Him Go, is set to be released Thursday she has told how she will continue to fight for her son “until there is no breath left in my body – he will always be my son and I will protect him and his memory forever”.
“The fight continues, it just changes as the years go on,” Fergus writes, as she urges authorities to re-examine the length of sentences for under-age criminals and launches a petition to ensure the probation service is “compelled to alert victim’s families immediately after any (further) offence (by convicted criminals)” is committed.
Venables is due to stand trial for possession of child pornography in coming months and has twice previously been recalled to prison. Along with Thompson, Venables was jailed for eight years for killing James. Both were released in 2001 under new identities on a lifelong licence.
On Wednesday, Fergus appeared on Loose Women where she told how she believed the ghost of her late son had visited her, tugging on her bathrobe while she cleaned her home. She believes James has been with her countless times during the past two decades.
Fergus detailed her lingering regrets about the day James was taken from her to HuffPost, saying “my final hours and minutes with my beautiful James will be etched on my mind until my dying day”, but revealed the exact details of his ordeal are not known to her.
“In truth, a lot of the detail is lost for me – I either can’t remember because I have blanked it out or else the facts were kept from me for my own sake,” she wrote.
“I can’t live in a world of ifs, buts and if onlys’ – if only I hadn’t gone shopping that day, if only we hadn’t stopped at the butcher’s, what if we had been half an hour later? Why didn’t I take his buggy? Thinking like that is the path to madness, as is searching for answers about why this had to happen to us – only Venables and Thompson know why they did what they did and I realised I had to stop asking why a long time ago because the answers aren’t ever coming. There is no forgiveness in my heart for my son’s killers,” Fergus wrote in her blog.
After being led away from his mother, James was left for dead on a railway line two-and-a-half miles (4 km) away in Walton. His mutilated body was found two-days after his murder.
While awaiting Venables and Thompson’s trial, Fergus fell pregnant with son Michael, but the strain of the ordeal led to the break-up of her first marriage. She later re-married and had two children, Leon, 18, and Thomas, 19, who she now credits with helping her overcome the trauma of James’ passing.
When the killers, then 18, were released, Fergus wrote that she was “terrified” and “fixated” on where they lived, and anxious where her children were at all times.
“Even though my boys are older, I don’t sleep a wink until everyone is home and I expect texts to let me know how far away they are. If they are even a few minutes late, I go into a blind panic. I truly don’t think the chilly fear I felt when I realised James wasn’t by my side will ever fully leave me,” Fergus wrote.
Fergus said she has kept James’ memory alive by talking to her children, from a young age, about him and things he used to do, and that “time” and her family had “given me a sense of happiness and peace I could never have imagined after the day James left my side”.
I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus is available on Thursday.