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Teenage rapist named after reporter protests

A ban on naming a ‘monster’ teenager who sexually assaulted a nine-year-old girl while on bail for the rape of a ten-year-old girl was lifted following applications from reporters.

Journalists from the Lancashire Telegraph, St Helens Star and Press Association all requested that Judge David Harris QC overturned an order made under section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

It had given anonymity to 17-year-old Simon Heaton after the youth was handed an indefinite sentence for public protection and ordered to serve a minimum of five years in custody.

Heaton, who was described as a “monster” by the mother of one victim, had admitted raping the ten-year-old and charges of sexual assault and causing grievous bodily harm involving both his victims, reports Media Lawyer.

The judge lifted the anonymity order when Heaton was sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court but postponed it for a day so provisions could be made to ensure Heaton’s security at Wetherby Prison.

Reporters made written submissions to the judge and also argued in court that identifying Heaton was in the public interest due to him being a dangerous offender.

Prosecutor Debbie Gould supported it, saying: “Your honour has to take into account that lifting the ruling would act as a deterrent.”

Tom Watson, defending, argued that Heaton should remain anonymous until his 18th birthday.

“I am not critical of the application but the court has a balancing act to perform when one is dealing with a 17-year-old who has been shown to be a vulnerable individual,” he said.

Judge Harris said: “There is a profound public interest in including his name in reports of the attacks and including the name is likely to have a deterrent effect.

“The defendant has an interest in avoiding that publicity. He is a person with many dysfunctional physiological features and is undoubtedly vulnerable in a custodial setting.

“But the fact is his entitlement to anonymity under Section 39 will provide protection for less than five months.”