A leading criminal lawyer has defended the decision of a High Court judge to protect the identity of the two girls convicted of murdering Angela Wrightson.
Wrightson, 39, was tortured and eventually killed at her home in Hartlepool in December 2004, having suffered more than 100 injuries, including 80 to her face.
The 15-year-old girls, who were 13 and 14 at the time the crime was committed, were given life sentences for murder earlier this week, and they will serve minimum terms of 15 years.
Judge Mr. Justice Globe issued anonymity orders for the two girls, despite media requests for that ban to be lifted.
And Jeremy Dein QC, from 25 Bedford Row Barristers, has backed that ruling.
"I’m not justifying what they did, but it [anonymity] is necessary given they’re both young and have had very complex backgrounds,” he told Julia Hartley-Brewer.
“The judge’s ruling is publicly available, and the reason he made the anonymity orders is because he concluded there was a risk of significant violence, not just to these two girls, but to their families. He had information and support from a senior police investigator as well as the Chief Solicitor to Hartlepool County Council."
Although he recognised public opinion would be split on the matter, Dein insists the case has to be put into context taking into account the girls' family background.
“One of these two girls was incredibly damaged,” he added. “She had the most appalling upbringing, [suffering] emotional abuse, physical abuse and [she was] very seriously damaged. The younger girl wasn’t quite so damaged, but both of them clearly had very serious emotional difficulties.
He also added that, given the severity of the sentence, any perceived threat to the public has been quelled.
"The position is both of them got the child equivalent of life sentences and neither will be released until at least 15 years have passed," he said. "So in terms of any threat to the public, that doesn’t count for a very long time as far as any revelation of identity is concerned, and in that sense the judge was absolutely right."