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'Goth' murderers named thanks to court appeal by media

A judge lifted an order which had banned the press from naming two drunken teenagers who murdered a young woman in a park as soon as a verdict was reached, thanks to input from the media.

At the start of the trial journalists from the Press Association, the Lancashire Evening Telegraph and the Rossendale Free Press sent the judge a note asking if he would lift anonymity orders on the teenagers when those who denied offences were convicted.

Judge Anthony Russell QC lifted an order under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 when a jury at Preston Crown Court convicted 15-year-old Brendan Harris of murdering 20-year-old ‘Goth’ Sophie Lancaster.

He also lifted a similar order which had given anonymity to 16-year-old Ryan Herbert, who, at the start of the trial, had admitted murdering Miss Lancaster and assaulting her boyfriend art student Robert Maltby, Media Lawyer reports.

Judge Russell had said he would not consider lifting any orders until a sentencing hearing.

But when the jury went out, having heard details of the attacks, the journalists in court sent the judge a second note asking for the anonymity issue to be reconsidered.

PA reporter Kim Pilling, who was at the hearing, said: “The judge must have been swayed during the trial as he decided he would lift reporting restrictions giving anonymity to Harris and Herbert.

“Naming the three other youths, who were only convicted of assaulting the murder victim’s boyfriend, remains prohibited.

“But the judge said he would consider lifting the restrictions on naming the other three youths when they are all sentenced on April 28.”

The judge said he would wait until the sentencing hearing before deciding on whether to allow the media to name three other teenagers – two aged 17 and one aged 16 – who had admitted assault.