The Kent Messenger Group has won the right to name two teenagers who kicked a 13-year-old in the head after he had been knocked unconscious.
Jordan Akehurst, 14, and Dylan Richards, 15, were sentenced to four years’ and 18 months’ imprisonment respectively last week after pleading guilty to, respectively, grievous bodily harm with intent and grievous bodily harm.
Their victim, Jack Blanchard, then 13, was left brain damaged.
A section 39 order – which bans the publication of children’s names in court cases – was lifted after sentencing, following an appeal from Keith Hunt, the Kent Messenger Group’s court reporter.
Hunt cited Lord Justice Glidewell’s comments in the Court of Appeal in 1994, when he said: “As a general proposition, there is strong and proper public interest in knowing the identity of those who have committed crimes, particularly serious and detestable crimes.”
Akehurst’s and Richards’ barristers had argued for the order to stay. The order remained in place for a third teenager.
Following the lifting of the order, the story was followed up in nearly all the national newspapers.
Judge Jeremy Carey said: ‘I have no doubt there is a substantial deterrent element in naming defendants, but I have to consider the other side of the argument to the effect there is potential for real and irreparable damage to defendants in the public domainâ€¦
“I reach the firm conclusion in the case of Jordan Akehurst and Dylan Richards, both of whom will be the subject of a custodial sentence, that the public interest substantially outweighs their personal position, despite their youth, and there should now be publication of their names.”
Kent Messenger editor Bob Bounds said: “Here’s another example of a local journalist, in this case a highly experienced court reporter, making a successful submission to the court, which paves the way for all media to cover the case fully.
‘This one was picked up by the nationals but it’s only thanks to us that this nasty case got the coverage it deserved.”
Days later in the same court, the Kent Messenger successfully argued for the lifting of a section 39 order on Max Scally, the 17-year-old son of Gillingham Football Club chairman Paul Scally, after he was sentenced for assault.