Double Life killer wins anonymity case after release

silhouetteA convicted murderer sent to a psychiatric hospital has won his Supreme Court battle to keep his identity secret.

The double killer, in his 40s, who can only be referred to as “C”, succeeded in his challenge to a refusal of the Court of Appeal to grant him anonymity in legal proceedings.

C, who has had mental health problems for much of his life, was released from a secure psychiatric unit last October, just days before the Supreme Court began considering his case.

The court was told the Parole Board had agreed to his release on licence, and he was in the process of changing his name to start a new life.

Lady Hale, the court’s deputy president, ruled that an anonymity order was “necessary in the interests of this particular patient”.

The judge described C’s crime as “horrendous” and said it had caused “incalculable distress to the families of the victims”.

But without anonymity there was “a very real risk that the progress he has made during his long years of treatment in hospital would be put in jeopardy and his reintegration in the community, which was an important purpose of his transfer to hospital, will not succeed”.

The anonymity issue arose after C applied for a High Court judicial review of the Home Secretary’s decision – made well before C eventually won parole – refusing him unescorted leave in the community.

Stephen Knafler QC, appearing for C, accepted that his crimes – the killing of an ex-girlfriend and her new companion – were “high up on the scale of horrific”.

But Mr Knafler argued legal challenges involving mental health patients should be held in private – or at least with the individual’s identity protected.

The case raised a point of general public importance – whether mental health patients are entitled to anonymity when involved in legal proceedings connected with their detention, care or treatment under the 1983 Mental Health Act, said the QC.

A High Court judge and three appeal court judges rejected the pleas for anonymity.

But five Supreme Court judges – Lady Hale sitting with Lord Clarke, Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath and Lord Hughes – unanimously allowed C’s last-ditch challenge to the highest court in the land.

Lady Hale said: “There is a long-standing practice that certain classes of people, principally children and mental patients, should not be named in proceedings about their care, treatment and property.”

It would be wrong to presume an order should be made “in every case”, and a balance had to be struck, said the judge.

The public had a right to know what was going on in the courts, particularly in cases involving notorious criminals, and needed to be reassured sensible decisions were being made.

But that “right to know” had to be balanced against the potential harm the disclosure of a patient’s identity could cause to the patient “and perhaps also the hospital, those treating him and other patients”.

The purpose of detention in a psychiatric hospital for treatment was “to make the patient better, so that he is no longer a risk either to himself or to others”.

“That whole therapeutic exercise may be put in jeopardy if confidential information is disclosed in a way which enables the public to identify the patient.”

The judge said victims of crime had certain rights under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004.

“These rights, though limited, should enable the providers (of probation services) to reassure the victims’ families in this case that the arrangements made for the discharge of the patient will not put them at risk in any way.”

Referring to C’s change of name after his case received a high level of media attention, the judge said: “He is much more likely to be able to lead a successful life in the community if his identity is not generally known.

“The risk of ‘jigsaw’ identification, of people putting two and two together, will remain despite the change of name.

“Putting all the factors into the balance, I conclude that an anonymity order is necessary in the interests of this particular patient.”

Worcester child killer anonymity lifted

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A man who killed three children he was babysitting and impaled them on garden railings has had his anonymity lifted.

David McGreavy, 62, was jailed for life in 1973 for the murders of four-year-old Paul Ralph and his sisters Dawn, two, and nine-month-old Samantha.

He killed them at their home in Gillam Street, Worcester, in April 1973.

In 2009 a judge imposed a ban on naming him during a hearing to protect him from other prisoners. The High Court has now overturned the ban.

In January, McGreavy made a request to be moved to an open prison and his lawyers had argued that would put his name back in the spotlight and his life at risk.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling and media organisations argued the application was legally flawed and wrongly prevented the public from knowing the full facts of the case.

McGreavy was lodging with the family at the house in Gillam Street when he carried out the killings.

‘Monster of Worcester’

Paul had been strangled, Dawn was found with her throat cut, and Samantha died from a compound fracture to the skull.

The killings earned McGreavy the nickname the “Monster of Worcester”.

The anonymity ruling was made in 2009 during a hearing when McGreavy unsuccessfully challenged a ruling that he must remain in Category C prison conditions.

On Wednesday, Guy Vassall-Adams, representing the justice secretary and the media organisations objecting to the ban on naming McGreavy, told the court: “The full facts are exceptionally horrific by even the standard of

“The order restricted the media to saying they were ‘three sadistic murders’ but that doesn’t even give you the half of it.”

Lord Justice Pitchford, sitting in London with Mr Justice Simon, ruled the anonymity order must be discharged.

The High Court heard David McGreavy had been in prison for 40 years, during which time he had been seriously assaulted in 1975 and 1996 by fellow prisoners.

His counsel Quincy Whitaker told the court naming him would put him in more danger from other prison inmates.

Ms Whitaker told the court McGreavy had previously spent two years in an open prison until “hostile media coverage” led to him being returned to closed conditions “for his own safety”.

The court heard McGreavy was first transferred to category D open conditions in 1994 but the transfer to Leyhill Prison in south Gloucestershire broke down after other inmates learned of his offence.

Ms Whitaker said the triple killings were “notorious” but no concerns had been subsequently raised about his behaviour.

Name change possibleThere were “more than reasonable grounds” for a fair parole hearing that could mean him being returned to open conditions, which was a pre-requisite for release from custody, she said.

The judge held out the possibility that in future McGreavy could be allowed a change of name to protect him.

He said McGreavy’s ninth parole review was under way and a hearing could be held later this year.

Since 2007 McGreavy has made a number of failed bids to win parole, the court heard.

The Worcester MP at that time, Mike Foster, called for McGreavy to never be allowed back to the city and described the murders as an “absolutely vile crime”.

McGreavy is currently living in closed conditions in a vulnerable prisoners’ unit

David McGreavy

  • April 1973 – Murders Paul, Dawn and Samantha Ralph
  • Jailed for life later that year
  • 1994 – Transferred to open prison (category D) then back to closed prison conditions (Category C)
  • 2007 – One of a number of bids for parole refused
  • 2009 – Told he must remain in under closed prison conditions and anonymity order granted
  • May 2013 – Anonymity order lifted with ninth parole review underway