Shamed but not named: Sadistic Edlington brothers handed lifetime anonymity to protect their human rights

The two brothers who tortured two young boys, as they appeared in court. Drawing: Priscilla Coleman

The two brothers who tortured two young boys, as they appeared in court. Drawing: Priscilla Coleman

A PAIR of sadistic brothers who tortured two young boys almost to death in a Yorkshire former pit village were today handed lifelong anonymity, to protect their human rights.

One of them had part of an old ceramic sink dropped onto his head, and both were battered with bricks and branches, cut, stamped on, kicked, punched and throttled.

Edlington Recreation ground where the two brothers started their brutal attack on two boys

Edlington Recreation ground where the two brothers started their brutal attack on two boys

Parts of the attack were recorded on a mobile phone.

Edlington villagers speak out as sadistic brothers seek extended name ban to protect their human rights

The brothers were sentenced to an indeterminate period in custody, with a minimum of five years, but were released when the Parole Board deemed them no longer a risk to the public.

A court order made at the time granted them anonymity until they were both 18.

But as the younger of the two brothers approached his 18th birthday, lawyers acting for both asked the High Court to grant them a lifelong anonymity order, claiming that identifying them would breach various sections of the Human Rights Act.

The wooded area near Edlington, where an attack on two children took place in April 2009.

The wooded area near Edlington, where an attack on two children took place in April 2009.

Their QC, Phillippa Kaufmann, was instructed by staff from the Office of the Official Solicitor, a government department which helps vulnerable people involved in court cases, to avoid them being socially excluded.

She said evidence had shown there was a “real possibility” that the brothers would be attacked by vigilantes if their names became known.

Ms Kaufmann said only four people had previously been made the subject of such indefinite anonymity injunctions: Mary Bell, who was found guilty of killing two boys at a hearing in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1968; Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, who were convicted of killing Jamie Bulger in Liverpool; and Maxine Carr who was convicted of perverting the course of justice when her boyfriend Ian Huntley was found guilty of murdering Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman in Soham in 2002.

She said the brothers’ human right to life, their right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment and their right to respect for private and family life had to be weighed against the right to free expression.

Ms Kaufmann said the Edlington attack had led to the brothers being vilified and given “iconic” status.

“They didn’t kill but they have been treated as if they did,” she told the judge.

There was a level of anger and animosity which was “visceral”, she added.

Ms Kaufmann added: “At the very, very least they will suffer very, very substantial harassment.”

She said the brothers had suffered a “most abusive and neglectful childhood”.

Following the sentencing, the victims’ parents asked the judge to allow the brothers to be identified, a move that was opposed by the police and Doncaster Council.

The judge said identification could have an adverse effect on their rehabilitation.

Lawyers representing the boys were funded through legal aid, the judge heard.

No media organisation was represented by lawyers.

A reporter covering the hearing argued that journalists should be allowed to reveal the brothers’ real names - but not their new identities.

He said their real names had emerged at court hearings during criminal proceedings and people living in the Edlington area would already know them. He said a threat must already exist and publishing their real names would not add to the threat.

He added that lawmakers intended that juvenile defendants should lose their anonymity when they reached the age of 18.

Ms Kaufmann said revealing the brothers’ real names might enable people to work out their new identities.

Sir Geoffrey said he would publish the reasons for his decision in the near future.

He told the court: “I have to apply the law which includes their rights as well as the rights of their victims.”

Social workers came under severe criticism after a report showed they missed opportunities to help the brothers, who had been placed with foster parents in Edlington less than three weeks before the attacks.

In full: What the judge told sadistic Edlington brothers

Doncaster’s acting head of children’s services, Nick Jarman, apologised and said the department he had taken over was “totally broken”.

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