PEOPLE using social media like Facebook and Twitter to name two teenage murder suspects could face prosecution.
Judge Simon Bourne-Arton QC had previously made a banning order protecting the identities of the girls aged 13 and 14 from Hartlepool who are facing trial for the killing of Angela Wrightson, 39, on Tuesday, December 9.
Ms Wrightson was found dead from multiple injuries and significant loss of blood at her home in Stephen Street, Hartlepool.
Jamie Hill QC, the leading defence counsel for the 14-year-old, told Teesside Crown Court that there had been widespread flouting of the protection order and people could be prosecuted for breaching it.
He said: “There have been difficulties on Facebook and on Twitter.
“It seems that the Contempt of Court order has been largely ignored by people in Hartlepool.”
Mr Hill added: “The Hartlepool Mail has not been able to name the girls but the people on Twitter have done it anyway.
“The matter has been reported to the police and it may well be that proceedings may be brought.”
Judge Bourne-Arton said: “It may well be.”
The breaches on social media were raised when the case’s progress was discussed in the absence of the girls, who are being held at children’s remand centres.
The trial next year at Teesside Crown Court is expected to last three weeks, with Nicholas Campbell QC appearing for the prosecution.
The 13-year-old girl is represented by John Elvidge QC, leader of the North East Circuit.
Shaun Dodds, who appeared for the crown yesterday, said that it could take eight weeks for forensic evidence to be ready because there were 12 locations in Ms Wrightson’s lounge which had to be examined.
Mr Elvidge said that because of the girls’ ages the trial would have to be heard in short days with breaks.
The judge said that the girls will have separate defence experts and they would receive separate psychological assessments.
A date for a plea and case management hearing was arranged for March 6.
Junior counsel will attend court some time in January before service of the prosecution case, by which time a date for the trial should have been arranged.