A crown court judge has singled out a local news reporter for praise and spoken of the media’s importance in publicising “deterrent sentences” handed down for crimes.
Judge Christopher Prince used the final session of his ten-year tenure as resident judge at Durham Crown Court to invite in representatives of organisations who had helped him administer justice, including the press.
Judge Prince said he did not believe Northern Echo reporter Bruce Unwin “has ever had any recognition from any court” for his coverage of hearings, blog site Behind Local News reported.
“His stories have been fair, accurate and balanced,” the judge said.
“It is only too easy for the press to take cheap shots at a judge, and I know it would have been easy for you to take things I have said out of context and gained more publicity for your stories, but that has never happened.
“Courts need the media. There’s no point passing a deterrence sentence if these cases are not reported.
“Bruce Unwin consistently spots those cases that need reporting, like my mantra (regarding police car pursuits) that if you don’t stop you go to jail. He reports these every time. It saves lives and it stops people getting badly hurt.”
Judge Prince said that during his tenure at the court he “wanted to publicise a new approach to victims” so that more of them would come forward, which the Echo had helped convey.
“Not to recognise the role of The Northern Echo and Bruce Unwin would be to fail to recognise an important member of the team,” he said.
The Echo’s chief feature writer, Chris Lloyd, was also invited to the final court session, having written a series of features about the court for its 200th anniversary.
Judge Prince finished his last session in Durham by allowing the Echo’s photographer, Tom Banks, to take a picture inside the court (pictured top) for only the second time in 200 years.
Judge Prince will now preside over cases at Newcastle Crown Court. He has been replaced as the honorary judicial recorder of Durham by Judge James Adkin, the Echo has reported.
The Echo is owned by regional publisher Newsquest.
Picture: Tom Banks/ Northern Echo/ Newsquest