A pattern of bruising on Bulger's right cheek matched the features of the upper part of a shoe worn by Thompson; a paint mark in the toecap of one of Venables's shoes indicated he must have used "some force" when he kicked Bulger.

One of the boys later revealed that they were planning to find a child to abduct, lead him to the busy road alongside the shopping centre, and push him into the path of oncoming traffic. Tym's butcher's shop on the lower floor of the centre at around , Denise, who had been temporarily distracted, realised that her son had disappeared.

That same afternoon, Bulger, from nearby Kirkby, went with his mother, Denise, to the New Strand Shopping Centre. Thompson and Venables took Bulger on a meandering 2.5-mile (4 km) walk across Liverpool to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal where he was dropped on his head and suffered injuries to his face.

He sustained 10 skull fractures as a result of the bar striking his head.

Dr Alan Williams, the case's pathologist, stated that Bulger suffered so many injuries —42 in total— that none could be isolated as the fatal blow.

Thompson and Venables were charged on 20 February 1993 with Bulger's abduction and murder.

They were found guilty on 24 November 1993, making them the youngest convicted murderers in modern English history.

They were sentenced to detention during Her Majesty's pleasure until a Parole Board decision in June 2001 recommended their release on a lifelong licence aged 18.

In 2010, Venables was recalled to prison for breaching the terms of his licence, and was released on parole again in 2013.

The boys joked about pushing Bulger into the canal.

Eventually the boys arrived in the village of Walton, and with Walton Lane police station across the road facing them, they hesitated and led Bulger up a steep bank to a railway line near the disused Walton & Anfield railway station, close to Anfield Cemetery, where they began torturing him.

In November 2017, Venables was again sent to prison for breaching his licence by possessing child abuse images on his computer.