Lancashire reporter wins right to name Asbo youth

A reporter from the Lancashire Evening Post persuaded a Youth Court to lift reporting restrictions so that it could identify a youth who threatened a Catholic priest.

Stef Hall, crime reporter with the Lancashire Evening Post, made her application when 17-year-old Andrew Walch, who admitted a public order offence and handling a stolen phone, appeared at Preston Youth Court on 27 November.

She handed the bench a note asking the court to lift the anonymity Walch automatically receives under section 39 of the Children and Youth Persons Act 1933, saying that it was in the public interest that the teenager should be named, particularly as he was already subject to an anti-social behaviour order (Asbo).

Hall said: “I was pleased when the court lifted the restriction. It meant we could tell our readers about what this young offender had done.

“It was the first time I had applied for a reporting restriction to be lifted.”

The court heard that Walch, who was given a four-month detention and training order for the handling offence and a 12-month conditional discharge for the public order offence, had threatened to launch a public demonstration against Kevan Dorgan of St Teresa’s Church, Fishwick, Preston, after finding that he considered to be distasteful images on his mobile phone.

Dorgan left the parish in September, after suffering a burglary.

Jackie Garrett, prosecuting, said the phone, stolen during a raid at the church, was found in the back garden at Walch’s home.

Walch had threatened to stage a public demonstration against the priest, whom he accused of being “against the Bible”, after seeing the images stored on the phone.

Police told the court the pictures were not unlawful.

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