Press names father who abused baby after court challenge supported by child's mother

Press names father who abused baby after court challenge supported by child's mother

The press has won the right to name a father who banged his 27-day-old daughter’s head against a kitchen worktop after the baby’s mother “strongly supported” publication.

An application from a freelance court reporter to name Robin Bearman, who also shook his baby twice during the assault, was granted as Judge Timothy Rose decided not being able to identify him would impose a “substantial and unreasonable” restriction on reporting of the proceedings.

Journalist Ted Davenport and the baby’s mother both applied to Exeter Crown Court (pictured) at the end of Bearman’s trial yesterday to lift reporting restrictions previously imposed under Section 45 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

Bearman, 28, from Ilfracombe, was found not guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent, but had previously admitted a charge of inflicting GBH in relation to the incident in June 2017.

His daughter, who still cannot be named, suffered two skull fractures, a number of haemorrhages and a brain injury due to the assault, although she has made what was deemed a “surprisingly positive” recovery.

The restrictions meant the press could not name Bearman, as they prohibited the identification of his daughter until she reached the age of 18.

Considering the applications to name the father in Devon yesterday, Judge Rose said he would balance the public interest in fully reporting the proceedings against the desirability of not causing harm to the child.

He said that although naming Bearman may indirectly identify the child to readers, the risk would be “extremely limited” by the time she starts school in another two years’ time.

The judge’s ruling, seen by Press Gazette, said the child’s mother “strongly supports” reporting of what happened “on the basis that there is a strong public interest in a fair and accurate report of the offence that Mr Bearman committed”.

The judge said: “When I balance what I consider to be a limited and somewhat remote risk of harm to [the child] as against the strong public interest in the reporting of this very serious case, I conclude that the existing restrictions would impose a substantial and unreasonable restriction on the reporting of the proceedings and that it is in the public interest to remove or relax that restriction.”

The amended order allows the press to name Bearman in relation to his trial and upcoming sentencing hearing, including the fact he was the father of the victim in the case, but prohibits the reporting of the child’s name until she turns 18.

The case has now been reported on Reach website Devon Live and by Archant’s North Devon Gazette.

Picture: Google Maps



Press Gazette's must-read weekly newsletter featuring interviews, data, insight and investigations.