Court reporter wins fight to name youth

Wakefield Express court reporter Charlie Bullough cut through the red tape surrounding bolt-on Anti-Social Behaviour Order cases when he won the right to name a boy racer charged with dangerous driving and a string of other offences.

An automatic Section 49 order stopping Ashley Atkinson being identified was lifted after Bullough made a fiveminute representation to magistrates at Wakefield Youth Court.

Bolt-on ASBOs imposed on youths have been notoriously difficult to report because of the switch from criminal to civil proceedings, which often results in papers being able to name the subject but not report the nature of the offences that have led to the imposition of the ASBO.

Bullough, who had been following 16-year-old Atkinson’s case for months, said: “I explained the law on Section 49 orders on bolt-on ASBO cases had changed as recently as April.

Automatic restrictions are no longer in force on the civil part of the application, but the court still has discretion to make a Section 39 order to protect the defendant’s identity.

“I said Section 49 still applied to the criminal part of the proceedings and we were left with a strange situation where you could fully identify him on one part of the court case, but not on the other.”

Bullough knew that Atkinson was a persistent offender who had crashed into a police car three times and driven past a junior school at 60mph at home time.

“I thought I had strong public interest grounds to mount a successful challenge to all reporting restrictions under the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997,” he said.

Bullough told magistrates previous anonymity orders had not stopped Atkinson from reoffending; stressed the need for open justice and for people to continue to have faith in the legal system; and argued ASBOs needed to be publicised so they could be policed by the community.

Atkinson’s solicitor opposed the bid to lift reporting restrictions, but bench chairman John Wilkinson ruled: “We agree reporting restrictions be lifted on all matters.”

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