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Weekly dedicates 15 pages to high-profile murder case

The Bury Times produced 15 pages of in-depth coverage following the trial of a 15-year-old who admitted murdering Bury schoolboy Joe Geeling.

Eleven-year-old Joe, who suffered from cystic fibrosis, was murdered in March this year after being lured to the home of a fellow school pupil, Michael Hamer.

During a hearing at Manchester Crown Court Hamer pleaded guilty to murder and was jailed for a minimum sentence of 12 years.

Reporters Terry Morgan and Karen Spibey covered the case, and also worked in advance on an eight-page special pull-out, revealing the background to the killing and providing an in-depth look at Joe and his brief life.

The Bury Times is published on a Thursday, which meant two full days had already passed after the hearing, but editor Ian Savage said good contacts and a team efort meant the paper was able to give readers much more than they may have already seen in the nationals.

Ian said: “As the case had been extensively covered in all the national newspapers, as well as on TV and radio on the Tuesday, we felt we had to provide material that ticked all the traditional journalistic boxes and told readers what they needed to know, but which was significantly different and more detailed than our rivals, and I believe we did so.”

Reporter Terry had built up a good relationship with Joe’s parents earlier in the year and had obtained dozens of photographs of their son.

Coverage included a front page showing different photographs of Joe and the headline ‘Our Son’, accompanied by a heartfelt message from Joe’s parents explaining the devastating impact his murder has had on them.

There was also an in-depth report of the court case, a profile of the killer, an interview with detectives unhappy at what they felt was a lenient sentence, a report about what the school might do in the future to learn lessons from the tragedy and detailed comments from the judge.

The eight-page pull-out included a first person retrospective piece by reporter Karen Spibey reflecting on the murder and a report about the Joe Geeling Trust, which raises money for cystic fibrosis and hospital charities.