A case involving a public schoolboy who stabbed his best friend 13 times and left him for dead was so serious that the press should be free to report it, a judge said yesterday.
The comment came from Judge Richard Hawkins after Press Association reporter John-Paul Ford Rojas checked with the court clerk to see if either the defendant, 17-year-old Harry Schick, or his victim, Gavin Doyle, were covered by anonymity orders.
The clerk at the Old Bailey said there were no orders in place but raised the issue with the judge, who declined to make any order, saying: “In view of the gravity of this case the press ought to be free to report it.”
The judge sentenced Schick to nine years after he admitted the attempted murder of Gavin Doyle, who was then 16 and a fellow A-level student at £14,000-a-year Pangbourne College, Berkshire.
Doyle, from Surrey, who hoped to become a Royal Marine, paid Schick £400 to get him a Pioneer air pistol he wanted for target practice but was too young to buy.
He arranged to meet Schick in Lloyd Park, Croydon, late at night in March, so he could hand over the weapon.
But as he had his back turned Schick produced a large knife and stabbed him repeatedly during an hour-long attack.
Schick took Doyle’s mobile phone and deleted records of contacts between them before tossing it on to his chest as he lay on the ground.
Doyle, who suffered a pierced liver and a collapsed lung, managed to use the handset to dial 999. He spent three days in intensive care, but could have died, the court heard.
Schick, of Kenway Road, Earls Court, west London, initially denied having had anything to do with the attack but admitted attempted murder as he was due to go on trial last month.
Judge Hawkins said that after Schick had served his sentence he should undergo a further psychological assessment because a report found that while he presented a “low to medium risk of future violence” it was a “very unusual” attack.
Detective Sergeant Tim Hammond said after the hearing: “He is a strange character and I think a very dangerous character.
‘We have got nothing to suggest any motive other than he wanted to kill the victim for his own personal gratification.”
Benjamin Squirrell, defending, said it was difficult throughout all of the reports and letters to find any underlying reason to make the attack understandable.