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June 13, 2019updated 30 Sep 2022 7:55am

Local reporter’s court challenge sees teen knife attacker named in paper

By James Walker

A local newspaper was able to name a teen who was jailed over a near-fatal stabbing in London after a successful court challenge by one of its reporters.

The Ham and High’s Sam Volpe challenged a Section 45 order granting anonymity for 17-year-old Terail McDonald as the teen was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court on Friday.

He cited the “publicly notorious nature of the crime and “the deterrent impact of naming” the youth in his representations to Judge Jane Sullivan who agreed to lift the order the same day as a result.

The Archant-owned weekly has now been able to report that McDonald was sentenced to six years for causing grievous bodily harm with intent and carrying a blade over the attack, which took place in Hampstead in November last year.

Volpe told Press Gazette he was “pretty proud” of his win for open justice and that nobody would know who McDonald was were it not for the “dogged work” of his newspaper.

But he added: “At the end of the day I was torn, and it’s not as if I can’t understand the ‘it’s harder to rehabilitate’ argument that was made, but I was glad to see the rights of the press upheld.”

He went on: “It’s worth saying that while court staff continue to be less than entirely helpful, it was heartening to be before a judge who was acutely aware of the importance of the press in this case.”

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Ham and High editor Ramzy Alwakeel took aim at the Met police in an editorial last year for their refusal to share the teen’s identity with the newspaper, even off the record, prior to the case going to court.

He said: “There is such a thing as anonymity for juveniles, which can be ordered by a judge. But the point of that is to stop a defendant or witness being named as we report on cases, not to kick us out of court altogether.

“What the Met is doing is obstructing open justice for the sake of its own internal processes. There are already rules about what we can and can’t cover in a trial – we don’t need the police to add obstacles for which they have no legal grounds.”

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