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Saturday, 19 April 2014

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News & Star and public praised for helping fight against crime

Cumbria's top judge has praised the News & Star for the way it helped bring a “dangerous” paedophile to justice.

Judge Paul Batty photo
Judge Paul Batty

Judge Paul Batty QC, the Honorary Recorder of Carlisle, says the coverage the newspaper routinely gives to cases at the city’s crown court plays an “important” role in the fight against crime.

At a time when many papers are cutting back on coverage from their local courts, the News & Star still tries to report on as many cases as possible.

The judge made his comments at a ceremony at which Cumbria’s High Sheriff Mrs Juliet Westoll presented Raymond Hilton, 41, and his son Matthew, 19, with £100 rewards for the way they gave the police crucial evidence which helped convict a pervert who sexually abused an 11-year-old girl after taking her out for a night-time drive “to see the stars”.

“This case illustrates two things,” the judge said.

“The first is the importance of members of the public doing the right thing and helping the authorities.

“The second is the importance of having a local newspaper which publishes reports of ongoing cases in court. Without that a very guilty and dangerous man may have walked free.”

Judge Batty’s comments arose from a case in which Daniel Black, 28, of Dobinson Road, Raffles, Carlisle, was jailed for four years for sexual activity with a child whom he assaulted after driving her down a farm track on the Solway coast.

Black had approached the Hiltons at their home in Orton Road, Carlisle, in the hope that Matthew – whom he vaguely knew through a mutual friend – would give him a false alibi to explain why his car had been seen in that area.

But it was only when they read the News & Star report of his ongoing trial that they realised the significance of his contact with them. They told the police and a retrial was ordered with the pair’s new evidence forming an important part of the prosecution case. Black was duly found guilty – of both the sex assault and perverting the course of justice.

“Both father and son behaved in an extremely responsible and public-spirited fashion,” Judge Batty said. “Had they not come forward, justice might not have been done.”

At the ceremony this week the High Sheriff presented Matthew, who works as a chef at the Centre Parcs near Penrith, and his father with certificates honouring them for their actions.

Raymond, a traffic manager, said afterwards: “It was just the right thing to do. I am a father and I wouldn’t want any child to suffer like that girl did.”

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