A judge has lifted an order banning the media from publishing the address of a police inspector, who has admitted making and distributing more than 300 indecent images of children, after a challenge by a PA reporter.
District Judge Graham Wilkinson made the order at Walsall Magistrates’ Court when Lee Bartram, an inspector with West Midlands Police, appeared on Thursday last week, saying that publishing his address could lead to him or his family being “targeted by terrorists”.
West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann had submitted a letter to the court asking for the ban and arguing that the judge should take the current “severe” terror threat rating into consideration.
Cann said in his letter: “Should you feel able to direct that an address can be withheld, taking into account all the circumstances of the case before you, then you would be making a valuable contribution to mitigating the current threat we face.”
But the following day, when Bartram appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court, the order was lifted by Judge James Burbidge QC after he received a written challenge from Press Association Midlands reporter Matt Cooper.
Cooper wrote that guidance published by the Judicial College stressed the importance of publishing defendants’ addresses.
He argued that any alleged threat to an individual’s life or safety had to be objectively well-founded, and anyone applying for such a ban was required to provide clear and cogent evidence that publication of the information would create or materially increase a risk of death or serious injury.
Bartram’s career as a police officer was also over, he pointed out.
Judge Burbidge decided to lift the reporting restriction, despite requests from both the prosecution and defence to keep Bartram’s address secret.
The judge said: “I do not believe there is an objective and well-founded, heightened risk to his life as a result of these proceedings and him being a police officer.
“There has to be a good reason to make an order prohibiting open reporting.”
Bartram, 44, of of Bustleholme Lane, West Bromwich, has admitted making and distributing more than 300 indecent images of children, including a boy aged just six.
The court also heard that last year, after being released on bail by West Midlands Police, he had filmed a teenager who was sunbathing while recording a commentary expressing sexual desire.
On another film, Bartram was recorded “blaming the parents” of a child because of the way the youngster was dressed.
The disgraced officer pleaded guilty to five counts of making indecent images of a child and two counts of distributing similar images.
The charges, spanning a period between August 2013 and the same month of this year, relate to a total of 328 images, including some found on an iPad and an iPhone.
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