The father of James Bulger last night reacted with fury after one of the toddler's killers admitted he had enjoyed a "better life" as a result of being locked up for a crime which shocked the United Kingdom.
Robert Thompson also said he had benefitted from "a better education" during eight years in a secure unit after he and Jon Venables were convicted of murdering the 2-year-old, a documentary to screen tonight in the UK reveals.
When the 10-year-olds abducted and killed James in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993, serial truant Thompson was by his own admission "completely out of control... committing crime and causing trouble".
After almost a decade of intensive attention at Barton Moss secure unit in Manchester, he told a Parole Board considering his application to be freed that his time being held in the unit had brought huge benefits.
In papers revealed in a documentary to be broadcast on Channel 5 tonight, Thompson says: "I do feel aware that I am now a better person and have had a better life and a better education than if I had not committed the murder.
"There is obviously an irony to this but it is part of my remorseful feelings as well."
But last night James's father Ralph said the confession confirmed what he and James's mother Denise had long believed – that Thompson and Venables had been rewarded rather than punished for the crime.
"For 25 years I have insisted that Thompson and Venables have been rewarded not punished for murdering my baby son," Bulger, 51, told the Daily Mail.
"The message here is horrific – kill a child and you will get a privileged and cosy life in return.
"I have always said that these pair have never been punished at all."
The cost of locking up the two killers was put at £2.5 million in 2001, when they were released on licence.
"When these two were still locked up they went without nothing," Bulger added.
"They got a first class education, counsellors and therapists while James's family was thrown to the wolves with our grief. It terrifies me that this sends out a message that you can commit a crime as heinous as killing James and get away with it."
Thompson told the Parole Board he had lied about his involvement after being overwhelmed by the public revulsion to their crime.
But he insisted he was now "deeply ashamed... of having played a part in this horrible murder".
However Bulger continued to reject Thompson's claim to be remorseful.
"Their false words mean nothing to me," he said. "They might have hoodwinked the Parole Board and the do-gooders who let them out but they will never deceive me."
Thompson, now 35, has managed to stay out of trouble since being released with a new identity in 2001.
However, Venables is in jail for the second time for downloading child pornography.