Gazette wins battle to identify teenage hellraiser

The Evening Gazette, Middlesbrough, has fought successfully for a second time to name a young Teesside hellraiser, writes Jean Morgan.

Nathan Patton, 16, was hit with an anti-social behaviour order (ASBO) last October after terrorising residents in Hemlington to the point that more than 20 people fled their homes.

But within a month he had breached the order three times, Teesside Youth Court heard. Patton admitted the charges and asked to be taken into custody for his own good. He was sentenced to a 12-month detention and training order.

Although Patton had already been named on receiving his ASBO in a civil court – after a Gazette challenge – his age still gave him anonymity over any breaches, dealt with in a criminal court.

The latest approach by the Gazette was backed by Middlesbrough Council, which sought the original order against Patton.

The court challenge was spearheaded by Gazette reporter Matheus Sanchez of whom editor Steve Dyson said: “Mat Sanchez has been like a dog with a bone on our coverage of asbos in the area, and his passion, commitment and knowledge have been a real asset to us.

“He has stood up in court and politely argued his case, phoned in to get letters written when the judge has told him he needs it in writing, and has spent hours researching the law in detail to ensure we get it right each time. I’m very proud of him.”

District Judge James Prowse acknowledged Patton’s family had faced difficulties following the asbo, but decided the “very valuable” public interest was paramount and publicity of the sentence might aid his rehabilitation.

He said: “If communities are going to have any faith in the whole procedure of making an anti-social behaviour order, of the risks they run of reprisals when they come to court, then there’s an interest of seeing the orders are not empty, but have teeth.”

Dyson said: “We think very seriously and carefully before spending time, effort and resources challenging the anonymity of young offenders, but in ASBO cases we feel it is crucial that someone is vigilant.”

“The community and any would-be copycats must know that the worst anti-social behaviour will be punished.”

Jean Morgan

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