A reporter’s bid to name a juvenile appearing in youth court has failed after a defence solicitor successfully argued he should have had 24 hours notice of the move.
Swindon Evening Advertiser court reporter Geoff Bennett made a written representation at the sentencing of a 15-year-old persistent young offender.
The boy was found guilty of repeatedly breaching an Anti-Social Behaviour Order which banned him from parts of Highworth. He was sentenced to six months detention.
Bennett said: “We applied for a lifting of the ID restriction because we thought it was in the interests of the people of Highworth to know who this boy was. The defence argued that they needed 24 hours notice to prepare their response – previously that hasn’t been the case.
“I wasn’t even allowed to make my application because the magistrate decided they were within their rights to have 24 hours notice.”
Two weeks ago, Bennett successfully challenged a Section 39 Order made to protect the identity of a 13-year-old young offender, Lee Walsh.
The boy had an ASBO taken out against him by Swindon Council which banned him from parts of the area of Penhill.
Because ASBOs are civil injunctions the case was heard in an adult court.
Bennett told the court clerk that he wished to challenge a defence application made under Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act to protect the boy’s identity.
He was invited to address the court and said he believed it was in the public interest that the people of Penhill should be able to identify the boy.
The magistrate upheld his challenge and the Evening Advertiser published the boy’s name and picture on the front page of the next day’s paper.
By Dominic Ponsford