Happy slap teen keeps anonymity - Press Gazette

Happy slap teen keeps anonymity

A judge refused to allow the media to identify a 15-year-old girl who used a mobile phone to film two friends beating a man to death in what a court heard was a “cruel and revolting attack”.

Judge James Stewart QC, told the girl as he gave her a two-year detention and training order for her part in the manslaughter of Gavin Waterhouse that the courts had to make an example of youths like her in order to try to make changes in society.

But he rejected an application from journalists to lift an anonymity order under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

The girl’s defence counsel, Abbas Lakha QC, had told the judge at a hearing on March 18 that before the girl was even charged there were “threats to her life and as a result she had to be moved away from the area and had to live in a different part of the country”.

He went on: “The consequence of that is that there is a real risk to her and her family if there is to be identification of her.

“To counterbalance that, there is not any overwhelming public interest in the naming of her or the identification of her. She should be protected if at all possible.”

He also pointed out that the case had already received a great deal of media coverage in which the girl was not named.

Judge Stewart said: “Yes, I agree, reporting restrictions should not be lifted.”

The girl had appeared at a hearing in February at which she admitted manslaughter as an aider and abettor by filming two teenagers kicking and punching Mr Waterhouse in an unprovoked attack behind a supermarket in Keighley, West Yorkshire.

On March 13, Judge Stewart lifted a section 39 order which had given anonymity to 17-year-old Sean Thompson, of Cullingworth, Bradford, who carried out the attack on Mr Waterhouse with 19-year-old Mark Masters, of Keighley, West Yorkshire.

He condemned the gang as being typical of the “young, drunken, violent yob who hunt in packs and of whom the public are sick and tired”.

The court had heard that Mr Waterhouse, 29, who had a drink problem and ill health, lived alone in a bedsit in Keighley.

Masters and Thompson, who had beaten him several times before the fatal attack and boasted about it to their friends, encountered him again on September 23 last year, behind a supermarket in Keighley.

The girl asked Mr Waterhouse, who had been drinking, for 40p, which he refused to give her.

Masters then asked her to film the attack, and punched Mr Waterhouse repeatedly in the face before Thompson pulled him to the ground, where both kicked his body.

Mr Waterhouse later made his way home, where he died, alone, of a ruptured spleen three days later.

Masters was given seven years in a young offenders’ institution.

Thompson was given six years’ detention.