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Anonymity refused for child-porn accused man

A MAN accused of child porn offences has failed in a legal bid to secure anonymity over fears of a possible paramilitary attack.

Judges in the High Court upheld a decision to refuse to impose a ban on publicising Daniel Martin Carlin's identity.

Lord Chief Justice Declan Morgan said: "It seems to us that the applicant has not crossed the hurdle of demonstrating that there is a real risk in relation to this matter."

Mr Carlin (62), of Ballyarnett, Derry, was due before the city's Magistrates' Court last week charged with making indecent images of children.

His lawyer sought an anonymity order, citing a previous incident linked to the paramilitary vigilante grouping Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD).

A hearing was held in chambers, with a press representative later invited to participate before the judge refused the request.

Judicial review proceedings were then brought to the High Court in a bid to overturn that decision.

Lawyers for Mr Carlin attempted to establish that the risk of him being attacked was real, rather than fanciful.

Despite their arguments it was confirmed that police have no information to suggest Carlin is under threat from any known grouping.

A distinction was also drawn with drugs cases where defendants in Derry have been granted anonymity due to fears of being attacked by RAAD.

Sir Declan, sitting with Mr Justice Treacy, pointed out there was nothing to indicate a generalised threat against alleged sex offenders in the city.

Dismissing the application, he also stressed that the media should be given the chance to attend future anonymity applications - even when the public is excluded.

"It's for the district judge in each case to satisfy him or herself that there is good reason for not dealing with anonymity issues in open court," Sir Declan said.

"At the very minimum... both parties should be in court - prosecution and defence, any co-defendants who are involved should be in court and it is essential that a member of the press also be available to ensure the press have an adequate opportunity to make representations and to take any further steps they consider are appropriate in relation to the application.

"That is an absolute minimum requirement of open justice. It's important that all of those involved in the justice system are aware of it."

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