JAMES Bulger’s brothers have revealed his heartbroken mum still keeps a spare chair for him at the Christmas dinner table and speaks about him “as if he is there”.
In a new documentary, James’ family shared heartfelt stories about the impact the two-year-old’s killing in 1993 has had on their lives, including how mum Denise still includes her first-born son in family occasions like Christmas.
James Bulger, two, was tortured and killed in 1993Credit: PA:Press Association
His brothers have spoken for the first time about life after his murderCredit: Xposure
Brother Michael, born nine months after James’ disappearance, reveals: “We have a spare chair around the Christmas table, it’s always been empty.
“My mum likes to see James as not sitting there but being there present with us while we’re having Christmas dinner.”
James was tortured and killed by two schoolboys in a crime that rocked Britain.
Lost Boy: The Killing of James Bulger will see James’ brother Michael, 27, and half-brothers Thomas, 22, and Leon, 21, open up for the first time about the impact his horrific murder had on their lives.
Leon says: “Still now I can’t fathom exactly what happened – I don’t really want to know all the details about it.”
Michael says: “Being James’ brother is not a weird thing.
“We have always grown up knowing he was there, what he was like, his character. In the household, we talk about James a lot.
“My mum will give us little stories and insights about what he was like.
“He has always been a character we wanted to know more about, wishing he was there, rather than someone who was in the background all the time.”
James’ killers Jon Venables (left) and Robert ThompsonCredit: PA:Press Association
He says that the family is closer because of what happened and they “do spend more time together than some other families”.
Although he tells that their mother, Denise Fergus, would always walk behind them in shops so she had a constant eye on them.
Michael recalls: “Going through school I wasn’t allowed on school trips or to go to the shops with my mates.
“The only place I was allowed was either in the front garden or literally outside the gate with my mates, but I would have to be in view of the window, so if I went out of sight, Mum would be straight out.”
Denise split from husband Ralph in 1993, shortly after having Michael.
She later married Stuart Fergus and had two children, Thomas and Leon.
James’ brothers say their family are closer because of what happenedCredit: Getty Images – Getty
James’ mother Denise was in a butcher’s shop when her son was takenCredit: ITV
On 12 February 1993, Little James was led away by two boys while his mother was in a butcher’s shop at the busy shopping centre.
A picture taken from CCTV footage shows the tot being taken by the hand in what would become one of the defining images of the shocking case.
Mum Denise said: “I shouldn’t have let go of his hand. It’s hard for me to say, but it’s the truth.
“If there’s such a thing as closure, I don’t think I’ll get it any time soon. At this moment in time, I don’t see closure.
“He’ll never be forgotten by us. Every single day, even after all these years, I miss him. Every single day without James, he’s missed.”
The killers walked James for two and half miles and were spotted by 38 people – some of whom challenged the pair.
Venables and Thompson told passers-by that the distressed toddler was their younger brother or that he was lost and they were taking him to a local police station.
The pair took James to a railway line and tortured, beat and sexually assaulted him.
They poured modelling paint into his eyes, stoned him and clubbed him with bricks, before leaving him on the railway line to be hit by a train.
After killing the tot they left his body near the tracks where it was discovered two days later.
After James’ body was found at the railway line, it soon emerged that the toddler was covered in blue paint – a detail which eventually led cops to Venables and Thompson.
The identity of the killers was concealed from the public during their arrest and trial.
But because of the public outrage, the two 10-year-olds were tried in an adult court where they were convicted of murder.
Judge Justice Morland then named the murderers and sentenced them to a secure youth accommodation facility with a recommendation that they serve at least eight years in prison.
Lost Boy: The Killing of James Bulger will air at 9pm on Channel 5 on March 10 and 11.