An editor fined for identifying a sex offence victim says he will challenge a decision to dismiss his appeal against the conviction.
Thomas Sinclair, left, has been told to pay more than £2,000 in prosecution costs following the dismissal of the appeal, but says he was not given a “fair hearing” at Swansea Crown Court.
His initial conviction followed a report in the Ceredigion Herald on a voyeurism case which identified “familial links” between the victim and the defendant, potentially enabling the public to make a “jigsaw” identification.
The court heard the victim had not returned to her home area since learning about the publicity.
Upholding the conviction, Judge Keith Thomas and two magistrates sitting in Swansea said they found it inconceivable that Sinclair had not read the offending court report, but had simply failed to correct it.
Matthew Paul, for Sinclair, had argued that only those who already knew the girl could have worked out that she was the victim referred to, further claiming he had not been aware of the report before it had been published.
Giving evidence via video link from Haverfordwest Magistrates Court, Sinclair’s deputy Jon Coles said it was not his job to check articles for legal compliance, adding Sinclair was a “hands on” editor who had responsibility for that.
Craig Jones, for the crown, told the court that would mean that Sinclair had “neglected to even check his own front page”, while Judge Thomas said he did not believe Sinclair had not read the report, partly because there was a banner on the front page highlighting the inside story.
In a victim impact statement, the court heard that the girl at the centre of the case said she had not returned to her home area since learning about the publicity for fear that people knew what had happened to her, adding she hoped the Herald had “learned its lesson”.
Sinclair – who edits the Carmarthenshire, Llanelli and Pembrokeshire Heralds – had been fined £1,500 and ordered to pay £2,150 in compensation, costs and a surcharge after being convicted in May, but has been told he must now also pay an additional £2,220 in prosecution costs, as well as his defence costs.
He told the court last week the Ceredigion title had been closed following his conviction because the publicity surrounding the case had a negative effect on advertisers.
At the latest hearing, he said closing the Ceredigion title had cost £133,000, adding he was a 33pc shareholder in the group and received a salary of £19,000.
In a statement issued after the hearing, Sinclair said he would look to challenge the decision either by case stated, which would see him appeal to a higher court, or by judicial review, which would see a judge look at the lawfulness of the decision.
He said: “It was quite apparent that HH Judge Keith Thomas had written his decision in the case before I set foot in court this morning. I do not believe he had any intention of giving me a fair hearing. He did not give the magistrates sufficient time to properly consider the factual conclusions that he had reached in advance.
“The judge who was allocated to hear the case was forced to step down and Judge Thomas took the case without reading any of the papers. I do not consider that this was a fair hearing of my appeal and intend to challenge it by way of case stated or judicial review.”