Teenage rapists are `named and shamed'

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The Independent Online
TWO TEENAGERS convicted of raping a 14-year-old girl were "named and shamed" for the first time yesterday following a High Court decision to lift reporting restrictions protecting their anonymity.

Lawyers for Leroy Plummer and Trevor Simpkins, both juveniles at the time of the girl's ordeal, had argued that they were entitled to remain unnamed - as they had been during their trial - in view of their age and the fact that they intended to appeal against their convictions. But the High Court upheld a ruling by Judge Ann Goddard at the Old Bailey, after the jury's verdict, that naming the pair would have a potentially deterrent effect on others. Her decision had been suspended pending today's hearing.

Mr Justice Sullivan, sitting with Lord Justice Kennedy, said the public had an interest in knowing as much as possible of what happened in court and in knowing "the identity of those who have committed crimes, particularly grave and detestable crimes", and who might present a danger to the community. There might be cases where anonymity should be continued pending the outcome of an appeal, but this was not one of them, he said.

Plummer, 15, at the time of the offences which were carried out in Brixton, south London, is now 16, and Simpkins, who was 17 at the time is 18. They were convicted last May. Plummer, said to be of low intelligence and with a "functional age" of seven, was sentenced to nine years' detention and Simpkins to four years.

Following the convictions, Judge Goddard agreed to a request from the South London Press that reporting restrictions be lifted, holding that the public interest in publication of the names outweighed any detrimental effect it might have on the offenders and their families.

In the High Court, lawyers argued that the judge had given insufficient weight to the need to protect juveniles, particularly when they were vulnerable, like Plummer, and when they might suffer violence at the hands of fellow inmates at the young offenders institution.

Appeals had been lodged against their convictions. It was argued that, if the appeals succeeded, the pair would have wrongly been identified in the meantime. But Mr Justice Sullivan said Judge Goddard had given proper weight to all the relevant points.