A CAREER criminal who discovered the body of James Bulger on a railway line when he was just 14 has died in a jail cell.
James Riley, 44, “went off the rails” after the horror find three decades ago, his loved ones say.
He was said to have spiralled into a life of crime after discovering the body of the murdered tot in 1993.
And last week Riley, who was nicknamed Osty, was found dead on his police cell floor, MailOnline reported.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed it was investigating his death.
As youngsters Riley, his brother Terence and their pals found the body of two-year-old James on train tracks in Liverpool, Merseyside.
The boy had been murdered by then-10-year-olds Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, in a brutal killing that shocked the nation.
In the years that followed Riley turned to drugs, leading to a life of crime.
His family said he struggled with addiction, and racked up more than 40 convictions, after the grim discovery.
Riley’s lawyer Brendan Carville, defending, once told a court: “The horror of what he found on that occasion with his brother and two friends is something he has lived with ever since.
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“Rather than taking advantage of counselling and the like he turned to alcohol and drugs.”
In 2003, a decade after the death of James, Riley’s grandmother spoke about the brothers’ find.
She said: “Neither has spoken of it. They bottled it up. We tried to get the boys to talk about it, but they used to become hysterical, screaming they didn’t want to think about it.
“After that day James went off the rails and Terence’s personality changed totally. We hardly see him these days, but we know it was finding James’ body that changed him.
“Every night I pray for little James, but I also pray for my grandsons.”
In 2010, Riley appeared at Liverpool Crown Court for theft – and blamed the grim find of the toddler’s body for how his life had panned out.
Rather than taking advantage of counselling and the like he turned to alcohol and drugs.
Yesterday the police watchdog revealed the 44-year-old had been locked up in a cell after being approached by officers at 10pm on March 14.
It said that at 5pm the following day he was found fighting for his life on the floor of his cell.
Paramedics were raced to the station and rushed Riley to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The IOPC sent investigators to the cells to check over CCTV and clips from body-worn cameras.
Catherine Bates, the IOPC Regional Director, said: “This was a tragic incident in which a man has sadly died and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.
“Merseyside Police referred this matter to us, and as he was in the custody of police at the time he became unwell, it is important there is a thorough and independent investigation.
“We will examine all relevant matters including the interaction officers had with the man on the street, and what happened after he arrived at the custody suite.
“We have made contact with his family to explain our role and will update them as our enquiries progress.”