Paper wins second victory to name teenage tearaway

Alan Qualtrough

The Evening Herald in Plymouth has successfully fought for the legal right to name a persistent offender aged just 13, locked up for 12 months after breaching his Anti-Social Behaviour Order on three occasions.

It is the latest victory for the newspaper, which has already won the right to report the names of three other juveniles in previous ASBO civil court proceedings, one as young as 12.

The newspaper has applied for reporting restrictions to be lifted in the youth, magistrates’ and Crown courts, and at one stage before a High Court judge.

It is the second time the Herald has applied to a court to name Danny Hewitt. At a civil court hearing brought by Plymouth City Council in August, which saw an ASBO placed on Hewitt, the paper won the right then to name him.

At the time, district judge Philip Wassall said: "I think, overall, the factors in favour of lifting the order outweigh the presumption of anonymity. His conduct has been so extensive and so disruptive in the past.

"It is essential for the police that, if there is any further anti-social behaviour in the area or outside, that members of the public know that an order has been made and on whom. Reports can then be made to the police."

At Hewitt’s sentencing at Plymouth Youth Court last week, the Herald employed a barrister to fight for the lifting of the Section 49 automatic anonymity order.

In a five-year reign of hooliganism, Hewitt had brought terror to a Plymouth housing estate, setting fire to cars, breaking into vehicles and hurling abusive insults at residents.

Despite the ASBO being imposed, he went on to commit further criminal damage.

Lay magistrate Arminell Rule decided that printing Hewitt’s name was a matter of "public interest". The bench refused to allow the paper to print Hewitt’s photograph although this had been granted at the earlier ASBO hearing.

Herald editor Alan Qualtrough said: "We saw it as an important issue as part of our campaign to clear the city of crime and anti-social behaviour.

"It is a difficult argument over whether naming a juvenile would do him harm, but on the basis that he was a serial offender we thought we had no choice and the magistrates agreed."

By Jean Morgan

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