The mother of an eight-year-old boy tortured by two schoolgirls in a horrific hour-long attack called last night for the pair to be "named and shamed" and spoke of her anger about their "lenient" punishment.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the ordeal, she said she cannot stop thinking about her son crying out for her as he was stripped naked, had a knife held to his throat and genitals, was smothered with a pillow and told he was going to die.
The two girls, aged 11 and 14 at the time of the attack, were sentenced to detention by Newcastle Crown Court a week ago.
An order banning them from being identified because of their age was also made.
But speaking at her home in Easington Colliery, County Durham, yesterday, the mum said: "I want them to be named and shamed.
"What happened to my son is frighteningly similar to what happened to Jamie Bulger, although thankfully my son is still alive.
"The boys who killed Jamie were named, so why shouldn't these girls be? Also, they'll probably be out of their detention centre in six months. How am I supposed to explain that to my boy?"
She said her son still has nightmares.
"He lashes out in his sleep as if he's trying to fight them off," she said.
"He told me he'd been crying and screaming for me to come and help him. The thought that he was in a house just a few doors away while I was sat here in my living room and I couldn't hear him or help him haunts me."
On the day it happened, he had asked for permission to go out to play with his friends while his mum went to McDonald's. Three hours later, when he had not returned, she was on the brink of calling police.
"It was 9pm and I was frantic," she said. "I went out into the street and I was screaming his name. Maybe the girls heard and that's why they let him go.
"Minutes later, he came through the front door. His clothes were dripping wet and his Sunderland top was covered in blood."
The girls had forced him naked into the shower and tried to swill the blood away from his body. They pushed his clothes into the washing machine.
They admitted their guilt after police found traces of the boy's blood in the house.
"My son told me he'd got into a fight with one of his mates at first, but I didn't believe him for a second," said the boy's mother.
"He looked frightened. His eyes were puffy and red like he'd been crying for a long time and his lip was bust. I could see a knife mark across his throat."
She begged her son to tell her what was wrong, but it wasn't until the following morning that he plucked up the courage to tell his mother about the attack.
The girls had threatened to kill him if he revealed what had happened.
"He said he felt too humiliated and disgusted to tell me what had happened. He was frightened he would get wrong.
"Finally he started to speak to me, but I just couldn't comprehend what he was saying," she said.
"It was just like what happened to Jamie Bulger. Thankfully, my boy escaped with his life, but he thought he was going to die. There's got to be something mentally wrong with these girls. The girls invited him in, offering him and his friends tea and biscuits while the girls' parents were apparently out drinking.
"They told the three of them to leave but, as he was going out of the door, they pulled him back inside. They physically carried him upstairs and he says one of them restrained him by sitting on his legs while the other tied him to the bed.
"He tried to fight them off, but said he just couldn't. He was crying and screaming for me. They pushed a pillow over his face and one of them told him, `Try not to die'.
"They spat in his mouth and forced it closed to make him swallow it.
"One of them got a knife from downstairs. He says it was serrated and had a black handle, so it sounds like it was a breadknife. They asked another youngster if he wanted to stab him."
Police went to the boy's house to take a statement, but his ordeal did not end there. He was taken to hospital to be examined and had to strip off so photographs could be taken of his injuries.
Before the court case, he cried because he did not want to go.
Now nine, he still struggles to come to terms with what has happened.
"He says it's messed him up," said his mum, "that I can't possibly understand what's going on his head.
"He's also been bullied at school because everyone knows what happened. He's aggressive in a way he never was before. He has a lot of anger and frustration inside him and just doesn't know how to get that out."
He also hates to be around girls of a similar age to those who attacked him.
"He's having counselling," said his mother. "I don't think it's helping, but I don't know what else to do to help him get over it.
"I just hope that, somehow, we can get past this and it doesn't affect him into adulthood."
Page 2: Appalling act, says judge
Appalling act, says judge
The two girls were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court to detention a week ago after telling the judge they had watched the 18-rated spoof horror film Scary Movie before the attack.
The court heard they had stripped the eight-year-old boy naked, slapped him in the face, threatened him with a knife, put a pillow over his face in an attack lasting an hour, and asked another youngster if he wanted to stab him.
They admitted charges of false imprisonment and assault on May 1 last year.
Sentencing them, Judge Hodson said: "You embarked on behaviour which can only be described as torture.
"He must have been completely terrified by what you two did to him and I am sure he will not easily put the experience behind him. What you did was so appalling."
He sentenced the younger girl, now 13, who had already served the equivalent of a 12-month custodial sentence while on remand, to 12 months detention. The older girl, now 15, was sentenced to a 10-month detention and training order.
Chronicle of notorious suffering inflicted on children by children
The case has chilling similarities with others where children have gone even further and killed other children.
On Wednesday, brothers Ricky and Danny Preddie were convicted of killing schoolboy Damilola Taylor, 10, by stabbing him with a broken bottle and leaving him to bleed to death in a south-east London stairwell when they were 12 years old and barely 4ft 6ins tall.
The North-East's most notorious case is that of child killer Mary Bell, who was just 11 when she strangled Martin Brown, four, and three-year-old Brian Howe in separate incidents in Scotswood, Newcastle, in 1968.
The crimes shocked the nation on a scale not seen again until the murder of toddler Jamie Bulger in 1993.
Two-year-old Jamie was abducted and murdered by two 10-year-old boys, Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who took him on a two-and-a-half mile walk before leading him to a section of railway line where they threw blue modelling paint on his face, kicked him and hit him with bricks, stones and a 22lb iron bar and placed batteries in his mouth.
Before they left him, they laid Jamie across the train tracks and weighed his head down with rubble in the hope a passing train would hit him and make his death appear to be an accident.
They were given a full adult trial, sitting in a dock away from their parents, and named in court because of the seriousness of the offence. Last year, five child suspects, aged 12 and 11, were arrested by detectives in West Yorkshire on suspicion of the attempted murder of five-year-old Anthony Hinchliffe after the boy was found wandering alone with ligature-type marks around his neck, thought to have been the result of him being hanged from a tree in a wood.
Also last year, two girls who snatched a 14-year-old girl and subjected her to a 14-hour kidnap ordeal walked away from court with community rehabilitation orders.
Gemma Ritchie, of John Street, Wallsend, and Leanne Hollister, of Berwick Terrace, Percy Main, both 18, admitted locking their victim in a house and repeatedly attacking her before they handed her over to milkman Gary Alderson, who indecently assaulted her.
The pair had also taken a 12-year-old hostage in 2000 when they were both 13.