A challenge organised by a regional newspaper reporter led to the media being able to identify a 16-year-old who murdered a man in a “cowardly and senseless” knife attack.
Haris Mohammed was identified in coverage spread across the best part of five pages of the Derby Telegraph after the newspaper’s crime reporter, Martin Naylor, organised an application that led to trial judge Mrs Justice Cox lifting an anonymity order under section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.
The application was made in a letter to Nottingham Crown Court by Exeter-based law firm Foot Anstey.
Mrs Justice Cox lifted the anonymity order on July 15, when the jury convicted Mohammed of the murder of refuse worker Tom Webb (pictured top), who died in hospital after being stabbed in the chest in Derby city centre on January 19 while on a night out with friends.
Mohammed, who had taken a butterfly knife with him into the city, attacked Mr Webb after a confrontation sparked by a “chance remark” about a passing young woman.
Mrs Justice Cox ordered Mohammed to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure – the juvenile equivalent of a life sentence – at a hearing on Friday last week.
Before Mohammed was sentenced, the victim’s mother, Rachel Webb, spoke at length in the witness box about her only child, who planned to join the Navy.
Ms Webb, who suffers from post-traumatic stress, said: “Tom was a warm, kind, thoughtful and loved son, who had just started out on his life journey. Tom will never have a future and the pain this causes me is indescribable.”
Mr Naylor, who turned to journalism as a mature student after a career in sales ended with his being made redundant, said he organised the challenge to the anonymity order for Mohammed because he believed he should be identified.
The letter from Foot Anstey argued the teenager should be identified because of the seriousness of his offence as well as the impact it had had on the community – and the public interest in the reporting of such criminal proceedings.
Mr Naylor, 49, who wrote the Derby Telegraph’s five-page coverage of Mohammed’s conviction, turned to journalism when he was 38 after his job in sales ended, studying at Nottingham Trent University then joining the newspaper almost 10 years ago as a reporter before becoming its Crime Correspondent.
“It’s a career I love,” he said.
“I have challenged court orders before but this is the first time I have been successful and it is a satisfying feeling.
“Of all of the murder cases I have covered in more than nine years this one has to be the most senseless one – a 16-year-old saving face in front of his mates and now serving effectively a life sentence for doing so.
“To be in court in hear such a poignant victim personal statement read out by Tom’s mum, Rachel Webb, ahead of Mohammed’s sentencing, is something I will never forget.
“As she finished her 15 minute reading, I wanted to stand up and give her a round of applause for her bravery.”
Picture: Derbyshire Police handout