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Abusive parents named after regional daily’s court challenge

A newspaper was able to name a couple who admitted child cruelty charges after it successfully challenged a court order.

For the second time in a week, the Southern Daily Echo successfully persuaded a judge at Southampton Crown Court to lift an order banning the identification of children involved in abuse cases.

As a result of its challenge the Echo was able to report full details of the case of Sean and Rachell Rawles,  including the woman holding a knife to her daughter’s throat.

The paper had argued that by being prevented from explaining to readers the detail of the case in which parents kept their four children in squalid conditions the couple would never be shamed for their actions.

In an approach to Judge Peter Ralls sitting at Southampton Crown Court, Daily Echo reporter Arron Hendy explained that by banning the identification of the couple’s children the paper was effectively barred from identifying the parents in a case where a pregnant drunken mother had held a knife to her own seven-year-old daughter’s throat.

Judge Ralls agreed to lift the ban on identification imposed under the Children and Young Persons Act, adding: “It’s something the public have a right to know about.”

The Daily Echo was also successful in persuading officers in the case to release images of the squalor found at the couple’s home which were initially going to be withheld. The paper argued the images had been shown to the judge and as such should be made public.

Southern Daily Echo Editor in Chief Ian Murray told HTFP: “It is our policy to challenge bans on identification where we believe it is in the public interest for the full facts to come out. I am delighted that in both of these recent cases our staffs have been knowledgeable to challenge in a sensible manner and persuade the bench to lift the bans.”

In its comment article on the day of publication, the Daily Echo praised the fact the courts had acted with common sense in allowing the community to understand the full extent of the crimes carried out in both cases.

The couple both admitted a charge of child cruelty. Rachell Rawles was given a 50 week jail sentence suspended for two years and Sean Rawles was given a community order and curfew.

Last week the newspaper persuaded a Crown Court Judge to permit the naming of a rapist foster parent after successfully gaining written waivers from five of his victims.