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April 11, 2016

Teenagers guilty of Angela Wrightson murder cannot be named

Category: Reporting the Courts

Tags: reporting restrictions, reporting the courts

Court continues reporting restriction


Two girls aged 14 and 15 convicted of the murder of Angela Wrightson cannot be named after Mr Justice Globe continued the reporting restriction under section 39 Children and Young Persons Act 1933. At the same time the judge sentenced each girl to life with a minimum term of 15 years for the murder, which took the form of a sustained attack in Ms Wrightson’s home.

The Judge set out the principles under which decisions to leave in place or lift a reporting restriction relating to a minor tried in an adult court are made. He went on to decide that both girls were a high risk of suicide, and that lifting the reporting restriction would pose a real and immediate threat to the life of at least one of the girls. It was clear from the evidence that both girls had made numerous attempts on the their lives; the most recent attempt of one of the girls was during the Judge’s summing up. As such their Article 2 ECHR rights, and what was termed “the upper reaches” of their Article 8 ECHR rights, were engaged.

Mr Justice Globe said:

Nonetheless, despite the terrible thing that you have done and the sentence that must be imposed upon for it, I am concerned and disturbed by what I regard at a heightened real risk that identification followed by a press blitz will elevate the risk to your life to such an extent that I am satisfied that there is a real and immediate risk to your life if you were to be identified as one of the two girls who murdered Angela Wrightson. 

In such circumstances the Judge refused to lift the Order.

The Judge’s sentencing remarks, which include the decision on anonymity can be found here.

Section 39 Children and Young Persons Act 1933 was replaced in April 2015 by section 45 Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. The reporting restrictions in the Wrightson case were put in place before the coming into force of section 45, and thus were under the old law. However, as Mr Justice Globe made clear, the law has not changed substantively, and the same principles apply.