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Reporters barred from naming ‘vulnerable’ killer amid safeguarding concerns

Ian KirwanRegional journalists have been barred from naming a teenage killer – after his barrister cited the fact that he had “never been invited to a birthday party” as one of the reasons to keep his name secret.

Both PA and the Birmingham Mail have been refused the right to name the 15-year-old, who stabbed 53-year-old Ian Kirwan, pictured, after he challenged the killer and his gang for knocking on the door of a supermarket toilet cubicle he was using.

Richard Vernalls, who covers the West Midlands for PA, had appealed for reporting restrictions to be lifted after the boy, who was 14 at the time of the fatal stabbing, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years detention.

However, presiding judge at Birmingham Crown Court Mr Justice Fraser ruled in favour of the killer and his fellow defendants retaining their anonymity until their 18th birthdays, telling journalists present that concerns about knife crime can be expressed without naming them.

According to the Mail, Narita Bahra, defending the boy convicted of murder, told the court it “would not be in the public interest” to lift the restrictions in relation to her client because there was a risk of “potential damage to him.”

Ms Bahra further noted mental health issues experienced by her “vulnerable” client and told the court he had “never been invited to a birthday party”.

She argued there would be a ‘safeguarding issue’ if he was identified, warning there would be an issue concerning him being “labelled as a murderer as a child in public”.

Lawyers representing a 16-year-old found guilty of violent disorder and two 14-year-old boys convicted of the same offence also opposed Richard’s challenge.

Mr Justice Fraser told the court there were “no exceptional features” of the case to justify the lifting of restrictions, saying “great weight” needed to be given to the welfare of children.

He added the concerns raised in Richard’s application about knife crime and the “ease in which a member of the public can be murdered by a teenager” could be expressed without naming the defendants.