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Reporter hits out after judge withdraws right to name paedophile

A court reporter has hit out after a judge removed her right to name a convicted paedophile.

Tanya Fowles has accused sex offenders of “trying to slip silently through the system” after Newry Crown Court accepted one convict’s bid to be given permanent anonymity.

Tanya had successfully fought to name the man after he admitted 22 offences involving possessing, distributing and making indecent child images.

But despite Judge Gordon Kerr QC accepting her argument, the pervert has been granted a stay to support their claim for anonymity on the grounds that he has threatened to self-harm if named publicly.

Newry Crown Court

Newry Crown Court

HTFP reported in October how Tanya, who covers courts in Northern Ireland in addition to her work as a BBC local democracy reporter, had launched a campaign to curb defendants’ anonymity bids on the grounds of self-harm, describing the issue as “out of control”.

Speaking to HTFP about the latest case, she said: “99.9% of these instances relate to sexual offending and it’s almost becoming endemic.

“The case has concluded and the order falls away. That’s the law.

“This man was granted reporting restrictions throughout the entire duration of his case but despite this, according to his lawyers, made a number of self-harm attempts. That rendered the identity ban redundant.

“His similar threats if the case went to court had no impact whatsoever on the decision to prosecute.”

The paedophile’s defence detailed a series of self-harm incidents as the case proceeded through court, leading Tanya to point out it appeared the reporting ban had not prevented these actions rendering it ineffective as a safeguard.

She also noted the defendant had indicated he would self-harm if the case went to court, but this had no impact upon the decision to prosecute.

Judge Kerr imposed a three-year probation order and 60 hours of community service upon the defendant after the court heard his offending included having a number of images in the highest category of seriousness.

Lifting restrictions, the judge told the court he was “not satisfied there is any need to continue the reporting restriction”.

However, he then granted a stay on the order to allow for legal consultation after being told by defence counsel that the defendant had made remarks which caused “sufficient concern to advise him seek medical assistance”.

Tanya has hit out at the defence claim, telling HTFP: “There are just too many sex offenders, whose victims are highly vulnerable, particularly children, trying to slip silently through the system.

“This is creating a two-tier approach affording some defendants enhanced status over others, despite Article 20 of the Fundamental Charter of Human Rights stating everyone is equal before the law, no matter who they are – including sex offenders.”