When Robert Thompson was first arrested on suspicion of James Bulger ‘s brutal murder, his mother Ann Thompson refused to believe he’d had anything to do with it.
"They are all saying he told lies from beginning to end. Yes, he did tell some lies, but he also told the truth about one thing from beginning to end – he did not kill that baby. I honestly do believe him," she told the Telegraph before his trial in 1993.
According to journalist and author David James Smith, who covered the case, it would take years for her to finally accept that her then 10-year-old son had murdered a two year old.
Smith struck up a friendship of sorts with Ann Thompson, and continued to visit her in the years after Robert and fellow child killer Jon Venables were jailed.
And he claimed she made a video recording of a programme in which James’ devastated mum Denise Bulger (now Fergus) spoke about the murder, which she would watch it ‘incesantly.’
"Ann had stopped saying, ‘If only that child had been wearing reins, none of this would’ve happened,’ but she was still transfixed by Denise and could not turn away from her," Smith said.
"Of course, Ann felt desperately guilty and the viewing, I am sure, was in part an act of self-loathing."
"It took Ann a long time to move from denial to acceptance of what Robert had done," he continued. "She would tell him she wanted to know everything, we he was ready. She stood by him and visited him regularly throughout the eight long years of his detention."
Smith dropped Ann off at the secure unit for one such visit, and revealed she would take her other sons to see their jailed brother.
"I gave her a lift one afternoon to visit Robert… she pointed him out, waiting at a distant window as I dropped her off – buggy, baby, other son, bags of food and who knows what else, coming out of the boot of my car," he said.
"Ann kept a suitcase of cuttings about the case that she imagined Robert would see one day when he was old enough. She placed my book in there, she told me, though I dare say things have moved on since then."
The pair eventually fell out after he wrote a story about her video of Denise. These days she goes by a different name and has moved house several times.