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Daily wins court fight to name teen killer in bid to stop knife crime

Yaqeen ArshadA regional daily has won the right to name a teenage murderer as part of a bid to stop knife crime on its patch.

The Sheffield Star has identified 17-year-old Yaqeen Arshad as the killer who fatally stabbed 31-year-old father-of-one Richard Dentith in April last year.

Arshad, who was 16 at the time of the offence, had been protected throughout his trial at Sheffield Crown Court by reporting restrictions imposed under S45 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999.

But Star court reporters Jon Cooper and Sarah Marshall successfully argued naming the killer would provide a “stronger deterrent for future offending”.

Sentencing Arshad to a prison term of at least 14 years, Judge Sarah Wright told the court: “Given the nature of the offence, I’m going to lift the reporting restriction under Section 45 (Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999) and the press will be able to report the identity of this young man.”

The court heard Mr Dentith had sustained “catastrophic blood loss” after being stabbed following a confrontation after the victim walked passed a bus stop where Arshad and a freind were stood in the Burngreave area of Sheffield.

Sarah Marshall, who was present for the sentencing, told HTFP: “We welcome Judge Wright’s decision to lift the reporting restriction, which we feel reflects both the grave nature of Arshad’s offending, and the importance of open justice, even when it involves juveniles.

“Reflecting the views of many in our community, The Sheffield Star is extremely concerned about the level of knife crime in the city, following several fatal stabbings over the past year.

“Arshad ruined the lives of two families when he carried out an unprovoked, and ultimately fatal, attack on a young dad. He was convicted of murder, the most serious of crimes, following a trial; at which point my colleague and fellow court reporter, Jon Cooper, submitted an application to request that the reporting restriction was lifted.

“Despite messaging from the police and other agencies explaining that you are more likely to be on the receiving end of a knife attack if you arm yourself with a blade, we have observed that carrying weapons is becoming progressively more common in Sheffield, based on what we see both in court and through violent incidents carried out on the city’s streets.

“We felt that publicising full details of the case, including the name of the teenage boy responsible, would have more of an impact on those in the community and could help to act as a deterrent to stop incidents of this nature from taking place in the future.

“Lord Justice Simon Brown in R v Crown Court at Winchester, ex p B [2001] 1 Cr App R 11 argued: ‘The prospect of being named in court with the accompanying disgrace is a powerful deterrent and naming a defendant in the context of his punishment serves as a deterrent to others.'”

Jon added: “We argued that the reporting restrictions should be lifted should he be found guilty of the murder of Richard Dentith, or at a point thereafter should Master Arshad need to be sentenced.

“We argued that the seriousness of the offence meant any lifting of the reporting restrictions would be in the public interest and public gain and this would outweigh any gain the defendant may benefit from should he remain anonymous.

“We also argued that once convicted, Yaqeen Arshad is not likely to be released from custody for some time, and when he may be released he would certainly be an adult and he should therefore be identified in the same way as an adult at this stage.

“We will always challenge reporting restrictions in such circumstances where the public interest and gain in reporting full details serves as a stronger deterrent for future offending by others where defendants can be fully identified.

“We would also do this where we feel as journalists we can champion justifiable open justice where as much information as possible should be published where the public interest and gain outweighs other considerations.

“Such successful applications often help complainants, should they still be living, and their families and friends feel that full justice has been served without any exceptions which supports the recovery and closure process.”