Britain's youngest convicted terrorist asks for lifelong anonymity; appeal to be heard in October
The youngster, known only by his initials of RXG, has asked the court to consider giving him a "second chance"
The youngest convicted terrorist in Britain, who plotted to get Australian police officers beheaded when he was just 14 years old, is looking to keep his identity a secret by requesting the courts for lifelong anonymity.
The appeal is being considered unparalleled for a case involving terrorism, and if the teen from Blackburn, Lancashire, is granted his request, he will become one of the few offenders in the country who have been allowed to hide their identities.
In the history of British law to date, there have only been six other lifelong anonymity orders that have been granted by the courts. The convicts who were protected by anonymity after their trials include: John Venables and Robert Thompson, the two boys who murdered toddler James Bulger, child killer Mary Bell, and Maxine Carr of the Soham murders.
The teen was sentenced to life in prison in October 2015 for the charge of inciting terrorism. He is supposed to serve a minimum of 5 years and will be eligible for release from said prison only in 2020.
According to The Times UK, if the teen wins the appeal to hide his identity, he will become only the second offender whose identity has been hidden during the whole criminal proceedings and further. The youngster, known only by his initials of RXG, has asked the court to consider giving him a "second chance" by putting his privacy under human rights laws which will essentially prevent the public from knowing anything about his past.
In case the lawyers get a hint that members of the public are figuring out his identity after his conviction for terrorism, they will also ask that the teen is handed a new identity after he is released from prison. This could cost the taxpayers tens of thousands in pounds. With his previous cases as a base, RXG's lawyers will be expected to convince a High Court judge that he is at a level of serious risk from reprisals and they are also planning to say that his rehabilitation will be severely affected if he is ever identified by anyone else.
However, this is also under the condition that he is able to convince the court that he will no longer be a threat to the public. When he was at his sentencing, the jury at the Manchester Crown Court was told that the 14-year-old had used social media as well as encrypted messages to convince an 18-year-old Australian across the world to behead police officers who were tasked with guarding an Anzac Day parade in Melbourne.
It was revealed later that he had also threatened to behead some of his own teachers in school a little while ago. Normally, child suspects are given anonymity during criminal proceedings automatically but in really horrifying cases, such as the one that involved James Bulger's death, a judge in the court can decide to name the offender when they are being convicted.
On July 19, Thomas Wyllie and Alex Bolland were identified in the court after they were both convicted of plotting a school massacre in North Yorkshire that resembled the deadly one that took place in Columbine in the US in 1999. Both the teens were 14 at the time they had planned the attack.
During the 2015 trial when RXG was being sentenced, the judge, Justice Saunders, granted the teen anonymity till he turned 18, which is when a child criminal's name is usually reported in the news. The judge had said that if the child's identity is revealed to the world, it might make him the talk of the town with Islamist extremists as well as copycat terrorists with similar plots. The lawyers have already been given an interim order from the High Court. The application that they submitted for lifelong anonymity will be heard in October sometime.
Maxine Carr's former lawyer, Roy James, told The Sunday Times: "Everybody has a right to family and private life. He [RXG] would have to demonstrate that there is a real risk to him — as we did in Maxine’s case." The infamous killer had been jailed in 2003 after she had given a false alibi for Ian Huntley, whom she was with at the time after he killed Soham schoolgirls, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. Carr had been given a new identity and lifelong anonymity after she was released from prison and after she got many online death threats.
The application that was submitted by RXG's lawyers could also be supported by the probation service if they believe identifying him would be placing him at risk of becoming a radical again. If the teen wins this fight, it will set a precedent that has not happened before. One of the lawyers said: "What about all the other 18-year-old terrorists out there?"
Some other people who have been given lifelong anonymity include the Edlington Brothers, who were 9 and 11-years-old when they attacked and tortured two other boys by beating them with sticks and covering them with plastic before setting them on fire. They were released from prison 6 years after they were sentenced. Mary Bell was 23 when she was released from prison in 1980. She had been convicted of strangling Martin Brown, 4, and Brian Howe, 3, when she herself was only 10-years-old. She was given lifelong anonymity when she was released.