A news agency reporter successfully challenged reporting restrictions banning the identification of a 17-year-old who slashed a man’s neck after discovering the teenager had been boasting on social media about being in jail.
Hyde News and Pictures senior reporter Charlie Moloney (pictured) said it had been “extremely challenging” to cover Kyrese Cashley’s string of court appearances while avoiding jigsaw identification.
Cashley had posted publicly on Facebook that he was “HMP’s finest”, telling his friends: “A6333EL this is my prison number I am Feltham if anyone wants to contact shout me.”
Moloney’s application to lift reporting restrictions said: “We do not seek to moralise about the way in which this defendant is apparently celebrating going to prison, but include these pictures to argue that the benefit of maintaining the reporting restriction has already been eroded due to the actions of this defendant.
“On the other hand, the restriction on the ability of the press to report this case has become very substantial.”
Judge Heather Norton lifted the order protecting Cashley’s identity under Section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 on Wednesday as she sentenced him to four years in a young offenders institute for slashing at a man’s throat with a knife at a pub.
“The imposition of a discretionary reporting restriction is a departure from the ordinary principles of open justice,” the judge said. “The decision of whether to impose reporting restrictions requires a balancing exercise.
“These were serious offences, committed by a young person, now no stranger to the criminal justice system and they are yet another example of the serious consequences of taking a knife out to the public streets.”
Addressing Cashley, previously of Whitley in Reading, Judge Norton said: “It is clear that you have been posting on social media and that you have put yourself in the public domain, both your identity and the fact that you are in custody in Feltham.
“Taking all those matters into account, the balance has now shifted in favour of reporting and I therefore make an order that the reporting restriction previously imposed is lifted.”
Moloney told Press Gazette: “It was extremely challenging to cover Cashley’s string of appearances in court while he retained his anonymity, as we had to be careful that our separate reports did not allow readers to piece together who he was through jigsaw identification.
“After our agency were made aware that the defendant was actively posting on social media and identifying himself as a prisoner, of his own free will, we thought it was only right that the judge should be able to consider that when deciding what the real impact of lifting these restrictions would be.
“I am very thankful to all the judges at Reading Crown Court who gave me ample opportunity to put the press’s case forward at every stage in this process.”
A different judge had previously refused to allow Cashley to be identified after he breached a youth supervision order given to him for attacking a cyclist in 2018, when he was aged just 15.
Judge Edward Burgess told the press in January this year: “The primary concern of the court must be with the welfare of the young offender and the focus must be on his rehabilitation. It is my hope that the old clang of the prison gates having today significant deterrent effect will prove true in the case of this young man.
“Although it seems to me this is a finely balanced decision, the balance still just comes down in favour of Kyrese.”
Picture: Hyde News and Pictures