An anonymity order preventing the media from naming triple child killer David McGreavy, who impaled the bodies of his victims on railings, has been overturned by the High Court.
Two judges ruled the murderer, previously known only as “M”, can now be publicly revealed after a gagging order was lifted.
But he may receive a new name and be entitled to protection from publicity if it is decided at some time in the future to “facilitate his re-entry into society”.
McGreavy, now 62, was jailed for life in 1973 for killing the children he was babysitting at a house in Gillam Street, Worcester, and is one of the country’s most notorious and longest-serving prisoners.
An order banning his identity was first made in 2009 amid concern that McGreavy, who had already been attacked by other prisoners, might face further danger to life and limb if publicly named.
A fresh no-names order was imposed in February this year when the so-called “Monster of Worcester” launched his latest unsuccessful High Court bid to be transferred to an open prison to increase his chances of parole. The Parole Board had refused his request.
Discharging the gagging order, Lord Justice Pitchford said yesterday: “In our judgment, there is at present no real and immediate risk to the claimant’s life and safety because he is serving his sentence in conditions in which his safety can be closely monitored.”
The balance between the media’s right to name him under the European Convention on Human Rights “in the interests of open justice” and McGreavy’s right to have his life protected was currently in favour of the media said the judge, sitting with Mr Justice Simon.
He added: “We find that hostility is likely to be renewed following reports of the judicial review proceedings but that in the circumstances no real and immediate risk to life and well-being of the claimant will result.”
The judge said the media had acknowledged “that there may well come a time when [McGreavy’s] identity and whereabouts will need to be protected from public knowledge in order to ensure his safety and to facilitate his re-entry to society”.
To this day, 40 years on, McGreavy’s crimes remain some of the most horrific of modern day killings.
McGreavy murdered Paul Ralph, four, and his sisters Dawn, two, and nine-month-old Samantha in Gillam Street, Rainbow Hill, Worcester, in different ways then impaled their bodies on railings.
Paul had been strangled, Dawn was found with her throat cut, and Samantha died from a compound fracture to the skull.
The children’s mother, Dorothy Ralph, was not contactable after yesterday’s ruling, but her former sister-in-law, Dorothy Fields-Urry, said McGreavy should stay in jail. She said: “He is the scum of the earth for what he did and he should never be let out.
“It was unbelievable what he did to those children – I think it was the worst thing I have ever heard.”
Mrs Fields-Urry, from near Andover, Hampshire, added: “I don’t think he has shown any remorse for what he has done and he should stay in prison until he dies.”
Yesterday’s ruling was a victory for Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and national newspaper publishers who, after being alerted by the Press Association, came to court and successfully argued the order was legally flawed and wrongly prevented the public from knowing the full facts of McGreavy’s latest High Court application.
Mr Grayling welcomed the court’s decision as “a clear victory for open justice”.
He said: “The public has every right to know when serious offenders are taking legal action on matters which relate to their imprisonment.”