Two teenage killers who tortured and murdered a vulnerable alcoholic in her own home have won a High Court bid to keep their identities secret for life.
The girls were just 13 and 14 when they put 39-year-old Angela Wrightson through a horrific five-hour ordeal at her Hartlepool home while posing for Snapchat selfies.
They were handed life sentences at Leeds Crown Court in 2016 and told they must serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars.
At the end of the trial, judge Mr Justice Globe refused to lift reporting restrictions preventing the media from identifying the killers, due to their age and vulnerability.
Their anonymity automatically expired when they turned 18, leading their lawyers to ask a High Court judge in October last year to grant them lifelong anonymity.
In a ruling published on Thursday, Mrs Justice Tipples granted the pair – known only as D and F – permanent injunctions, preventing them from being identified in relation to the murder.
Miss Wrightson suffered a horrific and prolonged attack at her home in Stephen Street, Hartlepool, in December 2014.
She was hit with a shovel, a TV, a coffee table and a stick studded with screws after she let the girls into her home.
The victim was known locally as ‘Alco Ange’ and would let schoolchildren drink in her living room.
Miss Wrightson, who was 5ft 4in and weighed six-and-a-half stone, was found dead in her blood-spattered living room the next morning.
A selfie posted on Snapchat showed the defendants smiling with Miss Wrightson pictured in the background shortly before her death.
After the attack, the girls even boasted to friends about being given a lift home by police, who were unaware of the murder.
In the judgment of the case for granted anonymity, the judge said: “I am quite satisfied that this is a case where there is a real and immediate risk of serious physical harm or death to F at her own hand if her anonymity is not preserved.”
This is an “exceptional” case where “it is necessary to grant F the injunction sought in order to prevent her from being identified in connection with the murder of Angela Wrightson”, she said.
The judge said the other girl was also entitled to an injunction banning her identification as one of the killers, noting that expert psychological evidence had shown that if her identity was revealed it would “significantly increase her risk of self-harm”.
In the judgment, the judge notes it is clear there is ongoing media interest in the case and if the girls’ identities were revealed “it is inevitable that this will attract very significant media coverage locally and nationally”.
At October’s hearing, Edward Fitzgerald QC told Mrs Justice Tipples that both girls suffer from “recognisable mental conditions”, adding that they are “extremely psychologically vulnerable”.
There are also concerns that “lifting anonymity would create a very significant risk of harm from third parties”, he said.
Mr Fitzgerald argued: “The claimants live in fear that, if their names are disclosed, they will be attacked. And that affects their mental health and threatens their rehabilitation, and indeed promotes the risk of self-harm or even suicide.”
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