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13th Mar 2019

Actress Tina Malone sentenced after attempting to identify James Bulger killer

Wil Jones

She has been given an eight-month suspended sentence

Actress Tina Malone has received an eight-month suspended sentence for attempting to reveal the new identity of Jon Venables.

Venables, along with Robert Thompson, was found guilty of the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993, then aged just ten – making them the youngest convicted murderers in British history.

Malone shared a Facebook post in February 2018 that purportedly showed an image of Venables today, along with the new identity given to him.

Passing sentence at the high court, Lord Burnett, said: “Although the custody threshold is undoubtedly passed in this case, the personal circumstances and mitigation of this defendant are such that we should impose a suspended committal order.

“Taking account of everything that we have heard, we order that the defendant be committed to prison for eight months, but we suspend that order for two years.”

The actress was also ordered to pay £10,000 in court costs.

Tina Malone is best known for starring in the Channel 4 drama Shameless. In 2009, she appeared in the sixth series of Celebrity Big Brother.

Following the ruling, her solicitor Mark Manley, said: “She’s naturally very happy that this matter is now concluded and that she is able to go home to her family this evening. She’s obviously very sorry to have found herself in this position.”

Malone told the court that she was not aware that she was doing anything wrong when she shared the post.

Venables and Thompson have been living under new identities following the 2001 parole decision to release them on lifelong licences.

A court order was made in 2001 preventing any information being released that might reveal their new names.

“The injunction, in this case, is intended to both protect the identities of the offenders, but also innocent individuals who may be incorrectly identified as them. Posting this material online is a very serious matter and can result in a prison sentence,” said Robert Buckland QC, the solicitor general.

“I would urge everyone to think carefully about whether their social media posts could breach the order or amount to any other type of contempt of court.”

Venables was imprisoned again in 2010, after breaching the terms of his licence. After being released in 2013, he received another prison sentence in 2017 for possession of child pornography.