Shamed: judge agreed to lift ban on identifying pair of 11-year-olds
The Express & Star successfully overturned a court order allowing it to name a pair of 11-year-old boys who broke into a zoo and killed two wallabies.
In another unusual development Central News and BBC Midlands were allowed to film CCTV footage of the crime when it was played in court.
The case was widely followed up in the national press and came to light after a tip-off to the Wolverhamptonbased daily. According to the paper: “the West Midlands police press office was initially reluctant to release any details of the attacks.”
The boys climbed into the wallaby enclosure on two occasions after closing time at Dudley Zoo. The first time they caused an adult female to break its foot and it had to be put down. The second time a baby wallaby died of shock after they dunked it in water.
The paper made a written representation to district judge Michael Morris saying that it was in the public interest to lift the automatic Youth Court restrictions on naming Kieran Anslow and Ryan Jones.
Morris said he didn’t agree with naming and shaming but decided to do so because there was “great concern” about the fact the boys had returned to Dudley Zoo to carry out a second attack. He turned down an application to name a 10-year-old also involved.
After the case Dudley Zoo praised the Express & Star for keeping the incident in the public domain and claimed that it might never have come to court without the pressure of the newspaper.
Editor Adrian Faber said: “We were delighted with the judge’s decision. This story created a big public outcry and we felt we were doing our duty by asking the courts for the boys to be named.”
West Midlands police declined media requests to release CCTV footage of the boys climbing into the wallaby enclosure. However, the judge allowed the footage to be filmed as it was played in court.
Chief Inspector Surjeet Manku, head of press at West Midlands police, said: “Any suggestion that we would not have prosecuted these individuals without the media coverage is completely unfounded.
“When the incident was reported to police officers began an investigation and four youths were taken in for questioning. A witness appeal via the media was not considered necessary.
“When the Express & Star approached us we gave them confirmation that the incident was being investigated. We did not deny them information. No complaint was made at the time by the Express & Star, or any other media organisation, about our decision not to be proactive about this investigation.”
By Dominic Ponsford