A Welsh weekly was the first to report the full story of a local murder after its reporter successfully challenged a judge’s order barring reports that counld identify the defendant.
The Newsquest-owned South Wales Guardian, based in Ammanford, rushed off 3,000 copies with a four-page murder special after reporter Steve Adams overturned an order made under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act.
The order banned the media from identifying Adrian Jones, 17, who battered to death 24-year-old Kelly Hyde, 24, on a bridlepath near Ammanford as she walked her dog.
Jones, 16 at the time of the attack, was charged and found guilty of murder with a 10-2 majority, but before the paper’s challenge he could not be named.
Adams said: ‘There I was sat in the crown court press room surrounded by all these Welsh media veterans.
‘But when I asked them what they thought of our chances of getting the order lifted, they said they’d never seen a Section 39 challenged before – it was hardly a boost for my already fragile confidence.”
But Justice Nigel Davies, sitting at Swansea Crown Court, agreed to lift the order, allowing the Guardian to print its special issue.
Editor Mike Lewis, a former Daily Telegraph sports writer, said: ‘The atmosphere in the newsroom as we awaited the verdict while the clock ticked remorselessly towards our final deadline was like nothing I’ve experienced on a weekly paper before.
‘It reminded me of those nights in Fleet Street when we would watch England take part in a penalty shoot-out they would invariably lose.
‘Had Steve come on the line five minutes later that four-page wraparound would have been pulled – that’s how close it was.”
Explaining to Guardian readers why the paper had taken the ‘difficult’decision to mount a court challenge, Lewis wrote: ‘A young woman is dead…and in our view the accused is old enough for his name to be known to the wider public.”
Adams then landed an exclusive interview with Adrian Jones’s mother, protesting her son’s innocence, which the Guardian published the following week.