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Court reporter blocks rapist’s anonymity bid

A man convicted of raping a schoolgirl in her own home almost 30 years ago asked a Crown Court judge to give him anonymity on the grounds that his two children should be protected from publicity.

But a judge rejected the application after a protest from Hull Daily Mail court reporter Nicky Harley.

Counsel for David Bullock, who was jailed for seven years for the attack last week, had asked the judge for an anonymity order, saying that it was necessary “for Article 8 reasons” connected with his children, a boy aged 12 and a girl aged 10.

Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights guarantees the right to respect for privacy and family life.

Paul Genney, representing Bullock, argued that publicity about the case would have a serious effect on the children, and produced a letter from the son’s teacher about the possible effect of publicity.

Nicky objected, saying the court had no power to make any order, and arranged for the Mail’s solicitor Nigel Hanson of law firm Foot Anstey to write to the court, setting out the arguments against it.

The letter pointed out that in a previous case involving Trinity Mirror, the Court of Appeal firmly rejected an attempt to give anonymity to a man convicted of possessing child porn in order to protect his children from publicity about the case.

Nicky also handed the court a letter from Bullock’s victim, who said that she had waited almost 30 years to discover who had raped her, and now wanted him to be properly and publicly identified.

Recorder Guy Kearl QC rejected the anonymity application, saying: “I find that it would offend public justice not to allow for reporting by the press of this matter.

“It is in the interests of a democratic society to allow that to take place and the balance in this case lies in ensuring the press are able to freely report this.”

He also praised the Hull Daily Mail for its “responsible attitude” in challenging the application.

The court had heard that in 1982 Bullock, who was wearing a Balaclava helmet, raped his schoolgirl victim at knifepoint after breaking into her home.

The attack came just seven months after Bullock, who was then 17, had been released from Borstal, where he had served a sentence for indecently assaulting a woman.

Bullock, now 48, was caught by Humberside Police’s cold case team, Operation Fox, after his DNA, taken after he was caught for criminal damage in 2007, matched that of the rapist.

He admitted aggravated burglary and raping the girl in December 1982. As well as being jailed, Bullock was ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.

His victim told the Hull Daily Mail: “This man tore my life to pieces and turned my world upside down. It ended my schooling and I left with no qualifications after this. He destroyed my life.

“I’ve been living a nightmare for 28 years.”