Northern Ireland

Judge rules name of sex offender to be permanently withheld

Lawyers representing a child sex offender have succeeded in having his identity permanently withheld.

The man was sentenced to 21 months in prison by a Belfast court in December.

The charges related to internet sexual contact with a teenager and blackmailing a teenage girl.

When he was found guilty, the judge ruled that he should be named, ending restrictions imposed during the trial because of medical evidence that he could be suicidal.


The legal firm representing him then obtained an order challenging the naming and launched an action against the only reporter in court that day, suing him for asking the Crown Court judge to remove the anonymity order.

The Northern Ireland court service itself was then brought into the case as the body responsible for Crown Courts.

On Friday, at Belfast High Court, Mr Justice McCloskey issued permanent orders to both the media and the court service prohibiting them from doing anything that could identify the convicted man.

The judge said the medical evidence relating to his state of mind was credible and showed a real risk of suicide existed if his name was published in the media.

But he refused an application by the man's lawyers for costs of the proceedings to be paid by the court reporter saying the case was unprecedented and had raised significant issues relating to the Human Rights Act and that it would be unjust to award costs.

The convicted man's action was paid for by legal aid.