Weekly reporter gets sex offender name ban overturned

A local newspaper reporter in Hampshire has won a battle to reveal the identity of a man convicted of sexual offences against young girls.

Carolyn Dench, a reporter for New Milton Advertiser and Lymington Times, successfully challenged a defence solicitor’s attempt to protect the defendant’s identity.

Alexia Durran, who was defending Paul Coleman at Winchester crown court, argued that the defendant should remain anonymous on the grounds that the family, including his young daughter, should be protected.

Paul Coleman, 43, from New Milton, was found guilty of sexual offences against young girls. He has previous convictions for exposure and indecent assault including three accounts of indecency with a child.

The defence attempted to persuade the court that the press should be banned from revealing his identity based on a reporting restriction imposed by the magistrates in the early stages of the case.

Dench challenged this by questioning the original restriction. She said there was no legal basis to impose a ban.

She added that the newspaper’s report of the case did not mention the young daughter but referred to the defendant’s relatives collectively as ‘family”.

The judge, Thomas Longbotham, ruled in favour of the press and concluded that his name could be published.

Longbotham said: “There is always a sadness for those who bear no responsibility of your actions who suffer as a result [and] it is sad that criminal activity of a parent can bring shame to a family.

“However, it is impossible to over emphasise open justice by the press in a free country.”

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