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Rival titles win court fight to name pervert who filmed schoolgirl in bedroom

Two rival newspapers united to win a court fight enabling them to name a pervert who filmed a schoolgirl through her bedroom window.

Newsquest weekly the Wirral Globe and Reach plc daily the Liverpool Echo teamed up to lift reporting restrictions keeping Mark Helliwell’s name secret.

The challenge came as Helliwell, 49, was handed an eight-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months after pleading guilty to charges of stalking and voyeurism.

A judge had previously imposed restrictions preventing him from being named publicly, but this was overruled at Liverpool Crown Court, pictured, following the joint bid by the Globe and the Echo.

Liverpool court

A submission by Joe Lewis, head of editorial legal at Reach, successfully argued that the order went against case law and plainly infringed the principle of open justice.

He also submitted that the measures imposed were not proportionate.

The court heard how the girl noticed Helliwell looking up at her window in December 2020.

She began to document his behaviour and noticed he would repeatedly stare at her window but move away when she or her parents saw him.

The girl and her parents took numerous pictures of Helliwell’s actions and went to the police who arrested the father-of-one in March 2021.

A search of his house uncovered a camera and memory card containing 41 video clips of the girl, including ones that had zoomed in to show her inside her bedroom and a bathroom, with Helliwell admitting a “sexual” motive to police.

In a victim impact statement read to the court by Mr McInnes, the girl’s mother described how her daughter had been left suffering from nightmares by Helliwell’s behaviour.

Trevor Parry-Jones, defending, said Helliwell’s wife had since divorced him.

Mr Parry-Jones told the court: “He has no friends or support network. Whatever happens he will live with this for the rest of his life.”

District judge Jack McGarva told Helliwell: “I’m quite certain [the victim] was terrified. Some of her adolescence has been stolen from her and you have to appreciate this.”

Helliwell will also have to complete 200 hours of unpaid work and sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.

He is also the subject of a 10-year restraining order not to approach the victim or her family or enter the street where they live.