The Newsquest-owned weekly based in Ammanford managed to overturn a Section 39 order at Swansea Crown Court.
Victim Kelly Hyde, 24, was battered to death while walking her dog along a bridlepath near Ammanford and Adrian Jones – who was 16 at the time of the murder – was subsequently charged and convicted of her murder by a 10-2 majority verdict.
Reporter Steve, 37, said: “I was sat in the crown court press room surrounded by all these Welsh media veterans. When I asked them what they thought of our chances of getting the order lifted, they said they’d never seen a Section 39 challenged before – it was hardly a boost for my already fragile confidence.”
But the decision of the judge, Mr Justice Nigel Davies, to lift the order upon conviction enabled the Guardian to rush 3,000 copies of a four-page murder special into local shops and supermarkets.
Editor Mike Lewis, 47, a former Daily Telegraph sports staffer, said: “The atmosphere in the newsroom as we awaited the verdict while the clock ticked remorselessly towards our final deadline was like nothing I’ve experienced on a weekly paper before.
“It reminded me of those nights in Fleet Street when we would watch England take part in a penalty shoot-out they would invariably lose.
“Had Steve come on the line five minutes later that four-page wraparound would have been pulled – that’s how close it was.”
Explaining to Guardian readers why the paper had taken the “difficult” decision to mount a court challenge, Lewis wrote: “A young woman is dead…and in our view the accused is old enough for his name to be known to the wider public.”
To cap a successful day, Adams subsequently landed an exclusive interview with Adrian Jones’ mother, protesting her son’s innocence, which the Guardian also carried.