Trainee fights court order in her first week

A trainee reporter on the Northern Echo has successfully challenged her first court order less than a week into her career.

In
her first court coverage, Deborah Johnson, 22, managed to get a section
49 overturned, enabling her paper to name a teenage boy who had
launched a torrent of abuse at a taxi driver.

The defendant was 17 at the time of his offence but had turned 18 by the time he appeared in court.

When
the court tried to impose the restriction citing the Children and Young
Person’s Act, Johnson, who had just completed an NCTJ course at
Darlington College of Technology, remembered a legal precedent had been
established in a case involving the South Shields Gazette in April 2003.

Magistrates
in that case concluded: “The way we consider Section 49 of the Children
and Young Persons Act is that, despite the defendant’s age at the time
of the offence, his age at the conclusion deems him to be an adult.”

Deborah said: “I’d done an exam on it just the week before, so it was fresh in my mind.”

Peter
Barron, editor of the Northern Echo, said: “Deborah was less than a
week into her career when she stood up in court and told the
magistrates what the law was. It does her great credit.”

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