Sun and Star branded as 'inhumane' as killer, by murdered girl's parents

The parents of murdered schoolgirl Rochelle Holness have said the actions of journalists working for The Sun and the Daily Star were as "inhumane" as the man who killed her.

John McGrady was jailed for life on Tuesday after being found guilty of murdering, raping and mutilating the body of the 15-year-old.

Outside the court, Rochelle's parents issued a statement condemning certain press reports.

Through their lawyer they said: "The last eight months for us have been a living hell. On 28 September, when Rochelle was found, we did not understand the extent of the problems we would face.

"We have been deeply shocked by the timing of the cruel, sensationalist reporting by some of the tabloid press.

"We hope that those responsible for causing us so much unnecessary pain will today feel the shame that has so far been absent, for their behaviour has been as inhumane as John McGrady's."

The Press Complaints Commission confirmed that complaints under Clause 1 of the Editors' Code (accuracy) have been lodged against The Sun and the Daily Star.

The Holness family's lawyer, Andre Clovis, told Press Gazette that two stories in the red-tops had been particularly disturbing for the family. He said they appeared after Rochelle's body was found, but before the family had received details of the post-mortem findings.

He said: "Before they had received any feedback from the pathologist via the police, there were these articles written by these two papers.

"The article in the Star said ‘murdered schoolgirl Rochelle Holness was cut up with an electric saw while she was still alive — it was feared that she was dismembered while her heart was still beating.

"The Sun piece said she was ‘cut up with an electric saw while still alive, blood splattered on the ceilings and walls of the kitchen… the 15-year-old was strapped to a table and dismembered while her heart was still beating."

Clovis said that the pieces caused a rift between the family and the police — because they wanted to know why they were not being told this information first.

He added the family found the stories extremely upsetting — not least, because the information was not true.

He said that the post mortem found that Rochelle had been dead for at least 15 hours when her body was mutilated and that there was no evidence that blood had been splattered over the flat.

He said: "When you are reporting about these issues you have got to report them sensitively because there are people involved. The family were devastated because they believed these stories."

Clovis said he had been told by The Sun that the stories came from a "reliable source".

"The family would like an apology and an undertaking that when they are dealing with these matters they are done in a much more sensitive way.

"We've sent in 30 other press cuttings from various other newspapers to the PCC to show that the rest of the reporting has been extremely sensitive. The question is why these papers felt they had to go a step further. The others reported the graphic details but didn't invent things and didn't try to make it any more gruesome than it was."

The Sun declined to comment, pending the outcome of the PCC inquiry.

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