A judge slapped an interim order banning identification of a dead child when his parents appeared for a plea and trial preparation hearing – but lifted it after it was challenged by journalists.
Judge Jeremy Carey, who expressed concerns about potential “jigsaw identification”, made the order, under section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999, at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday morning following a prosecution application on behalf of Kent County Council.
The judge gave reporters in court until the end of the day to put in a written challenge – which was done by KM Media Group and the Ferrari News Agency.
The argument said in part: “We submit that the court does not only have no power to make an order giving anonymity to a dead child, it has no power to make any order giving anonymity to any other child of the family who is not a victim, witness or defendant in the case.”
When reporters returned to court Judge Carey said that the prosecution had withdrawn its application, and said he had also decided that there was “no basis in law” for making the order sought.
The two defendants in the case, Danny Shepherd, 25, and Katherine Cox, 32, deny causing the death of four-month-old Eli Cox, who died of a “catastrophic” head injury at a house in Minster, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, on April 27.
The couple, now of Millfield Road, Faversham, are charged with causing or allowing the death of a child between April 12 and 28 and causing or allowing physical harm to a child.
They also denied possessing the Class B drug amphetamine on April 14.
A previous hearing at Medway Magistrates’ Court was told the baby boy suffered several injuries, including to the brain, over a 10-week period.
The baby had 28 fractures to 19 bones and was alleged to have been exposed to amphetamine and cocaine.
The boy had a cardiac arrest and was placed on life support, but died later in hospital.
Shepherd and Cox are due to stand trial in July next year.
Bail conditions include residence, not contacting witnesses, and others and prohibitions on going to various places.
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