Two people have narrowly avoided jail after sharing information online said to be about James Bulger killer Jon Venables.
Richard McKeag, 28, of Bacup, Lancashire, and Natalie Barker, 36, of Kidderminster, Worcestershire, admitted breaching a worldwide ban on revealing Venables’ identity by posting pictures and other details.
Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett, sitting with Mr Justice Warby, sentenced the pair, who are not known to each other, at a High Court hearing in London on Thursday.
The judges handed McKeag a 12-month sentence, while Barker was given eight months, both suspended for two years.
Lord Burnett said that, were it not for their personal circumstances, they would have been sent to prison immediately for their “serious” breaches of the injunction protecting Venables’ identity.
The judge told the court there was a risk of someone being “killed or seriously injured”, including anyone who was wrongly identified as one of the Liverpool boy’s killers.
He said the “haunting images” of James Bulger being led to his death, aged two, by Venables and Robert Thompson, would “remain forever in the minds of anyone who saw them”.
The judge added: “The murder shocked the nation, indeed it resulted in much soul-searching.
“How was it that two boys, still at primary school, could be capable of such a wicked crime?”