The Manchester Evening News has persuaded a judge to allow it to publish the name of a schoolgirl who set fire to a 13-year-old boy.
Ryan Hilton died of his injuries after being doused in petrol by the girl and set alight when she flicked a petrol lighter at him, during a solvent-sniffing session.
Mr Justice Wakerley overturned a section 39 order last week giving the teenager, Chantelle Dunkerley, anonymity, after the newspaper had written to the Recorder of Manchester in July arguing that it was in the public interest and the interest of open justice that the girl should be identified after such a “horrifying incident”.
In the letter to Judge David Maddison, the Manchester Recorder, assistant editor Robert Ridley pointed out Dunkerley had a long history of causing problems in the community, but had always managed to be protected from publicity by court orders.
She had previously been sentenced to a four-month detention and training order after pleading guilty to a number of offences including assault, burglary, aggravated vehicle taking, obstructing a police officer and being conveyed in a car without insurance.
Oldham Council applied for an ASBO and it was granted, Ridley revealed. Then, just prior to her appearing for sentence, she was charged with the manslaughter of Hilton.
“Under current law, she would not enjoy automatic anonymity with regard to the ASBO,” the letter said, “but the court placed a section 39 order on that part of the hearing because the bench feared a report of the ASBO could prejudice Chantelle’s forthcoming manslaughter trial.
“Then when she later appeared before the youth court on the manslaughter charge, the defence again asked for a section 39 order to be placed on the case, and it was.
“We would suggest to the court that in view of the seriousness of the charge she now faces – one of manslaughter – the time has now come to end the anonymity and allow her to be identified.”
Dunkerley was sentenced to three years and three months detention.
By Jean Morgan