Anger after Hartlepool council spent thousands fighting to keep Angela Wrightson’s killers’ identity secret

editorial image

A victims’ support group has hit out at taxpayers’ money being spent to employ a barrister to argue against naming the teenage killers of Hartlepool woman Angela Wrightson.

The group victimcare said it was a “waste” for cash-strapped Hartlepool Borough Council to pay for a top Queen’s Counsel, who urged a judge not to lift an order which bans the public knowing the identities of the two girls.

David Hines

David Hines

It is estimated to have cost the local authority about £2,500.

The girls, who are now aged 15, were sentenced to life with a minimum of 15 years on Thursday after being found guilty by a jury of the shocking murder of vulnerable Angela in her home, in December 2014.

David Hines, founder of victimcare –which is based in South Tyneside – said: “Why send a barrister? Why did they waste taxpayers’ money, I think it’s outrageous.

“Use a spokesman or someone in charge of social services, who is already getting paid. It’s absolute nonsense.”

These horrible children should be named and shamed

David Hines, victimcare

At the sentencing on Thursday, Mr Justice Globe dismissed an application by media organisations to lift a reporting restriction on identifying the killers.

He said naming them could lead to them harming themselves after one of the girls had already tried to take her own life on several occasions.

Ian Wise QC, representing Hartlepool Borough Council, had asked for the order banning the identification of the girls to remain in place.

He said: “The welfare of these children outweighs any other interests. The local authority also has an obligation towards family members of these girls.”

The judge said Cleveland Police had also advised him that there were “no obvious benefits” to naming the defendants other than to create more sensational publicity.

Mr Hines, who is also a consultant for the National Victims Association, said the case was another example of the criminal’s interests being put ahead of the victims.

He said: “The establishment will always have the resources to protect themselves.

“As soon as something like this happens where the criminal needs protecting or help, they always find money. It’s shocking.”

Mr Hines said he agreed with 89% of readers,who said in a Mail poll that the girls should be named.

“These horrible children should be named and shamed,” he said.

“Quite frankly, they are the scum of the earth. We are gobsmacked the judge granted anonymity but not surprised.

“The victim always comes second in the criminal justice system.

“I feel really sorry for Angela, she was a vulnerable person, and I feel sorry for her family.”

A spokesman for Hartlepool council said: “The judge agreed to impose an anonymity order after taking several factors into account, including case law ,and this is a matter of public record.

“The council did make representation in court along with the police and defence barristers.

“Our representation included a number of factors, including the vulnerability of the defendants’ family members.

“At this stage our legal costs have not yet been finalised.”

Councillor Jonathan Brash also defended the council’s judgement.

He said: “These crimes were appalling, heinous and frankly unimaginable in their barbarity.

“A life sentence seems the only appropriate punishment.”

Coun Brash added: “On the question of anonymity for the perpetrators, politicians are not qualified, nor are they the appropriate people, to make such decisions.

“Child welfare is the most important function of any council and should be left to the professionals to exercise their judgement.

“I support, as I have always done, our officers in the carrying out of this duty.”

Angela, 39, died after suffering more than 100 injuries from a variety of objects which the girls used as weapons, including a television and coffee table.

What you said

The vast majority of Mail readers say Hartlepool Borough Council should not have paid for a barrister to argue the case for keeping the girls’ identities a secret.

In a poll on yesterday, 88% – about 400 people – answered ‘no’ to the question.

The debate about naming the killers has continued on our website and Facebook page.

On Facebook, Becky Eastwood said: “They can do the crime an older person would be named so they should. It’s ridiculous.”

June Martin Re Foster stated: “They should be named everyone else gets named for murdering someone just cause they kids but they are 2 savage animals killing a poor lady.”

Anika Mitchell agreed posting: “They should be named and shamed most of hpool know who they are.”

Debbie Mcintyre added: “Yes I agree they should be named she did not deserve that, Bless Her.”

Lesley Barton said: “Well it’s a bit late cause there names and pics are all over social media ... Another waste of taxpayers money trying to hide their identities ... They weren’t bothered about hiding their identities when they splashed it all over FB bragging what they had done to Angela and taking selfies so why shouldn’t they be named and shamed.”

Independent reviews into the case are to be carried out to see if lessons can be learned by officials.

The Teeswide Safeguarding Adults board will lead a review regarding Angela Wrightson, who was vulnerable.

And Serious Case Reviews are being undertaken by the Hartlepool Safeguarding Children Board for the two girls.