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Weekly reporter overturns court order in murder trial

Chris Baynes

A weekly reporter successfully challenged a court order which would have prevented his newspaper from fully reporting a murder case.

Chris Baynes, left, from the Croydon Guardian, was at the Old Bailey on Monday when the trial began of Colin McSweeny, who is accused of killing his son Shaun McSweeny with a scaffolding pole.

At the request of the prosecutor, the judge made an order under Section 39 of the Children and Young Persons Act to prevent the press identifying Shaun’s five-year-old daughter.

This would have severely restricted the Guardian’s reporting of the case because prosecutors alleged that McSweeny killed his son in a bid to win custody of his granddaughter.

After the order was made, Chris put together a challenge to it because it would have prevented him from reporting the girl’s relationship to either the defendant or victim.

After the court’s lunch break, he then put his case against the order to judge Richard Marks, who is the Common Serjeant of London – the second most senior judge at the Old Bailey.Croydon Guardian front

Chris argued that Section 39 could only be used to provide anonymity to a child concerned in the proceedings as a victim, witness or defendant, which was not the case in this instance.

He also stressed that the order woud significantly impede the paper’s reporting of the trial and pointed out that the child had already been identified by several publications before the case came to court.

The judge agreed the order should be lifted, as did the prosecutor who had applied for the order.

The Guardian decided not to name the five-year-old but just reported her relationship to the defendant and victim.

Said Chris: “There’s no joy in indirectly identifying a young child who has lost their father in such tragic circumstances, but in this case the order created such a substantial obstacle to fairly and accurately reporting the trial that I felt I had to challenge it.

“The trial was of significant local and national interest and I knew it was crucial to be able to provide the facts of the case, such as the alleged motive of the defendant, as fully as possible.

“I’m satisfied the prosecutor and judge ultimately agreed the order was not appropriate.”

McSweeny, 59, of Parry Road, South Norwood, was alleged to have lured Shaun, 24, into the garage of their home last November, where he repeatedly struck him with a scaffolding pole.

McSweeny denies murder and claimed he killed his son in self-defence.


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  • June 6, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    No such thing as section 39 order that is only used in civil courts
    It is now section 45 …from April this year with some subtle changes

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