Court reporters win legal challenge to identify parents of neglected baby in Kent Online reports

Two weekly reporters successfully challenged a court bid to impose restrictions that would have led to the parents of a nine-week-old baby going unnamed in news reports in order to avoid identifying their child.

Keith Hunt, of KM Media Group, made written submissions to Maidstone Crown Court after the prosecution applied for reporting restrictions under Section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

The outcome of the order would have been the banning of any information in reports that could have led to the identity of the infant, therefore including the names of his parents.

Hunt argued that a child of such a young age would not be affected by publicity, or that such publicity could be detrimental to his long-term wellbeing.

“In our opinion, the order would only serve to protect the defendants, whose identities would have to be omitted if the order remains,” he said in written submissions.

The case was sent up to Canterbury Crown Court where the reporter’s application was opposed by lawyers for the Crown Prosecution Service and the couple. The child’s grandmother also objected in a letter.

But after considering lengthy arguments, including further submissions by Paul Hooper, the KM’s journalist at Canterbury Crown Court, Judge Smith refused to make the order.

He also ruled that the child should not be named and that any report of the case on the Kent Online website would be removed after three years.

The case involved parents Jodie Hicks and Reece Adams, both 20, failing to get medical help for their baby for several hours after he became seriously ill, Kent Online reported.

The baby has since made a full recovery and the couple have parted.

Adams, now living in Cambridge, and Hicks, of Rainham Road, Chatham, Kent, both admitted ill-treatment or neglect of a child.

Adams was sentenced to 10 months youth custody and Hicks to eight months suspended for 18 months with 80 hours unpaid work.

Sentencing, Judge Julian Smith told them: “It seems to me there was a failing by both of you and amounts to neglect.”

Picture: Google Maps

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