Rapist didn’t deserve ‘special treatment’ say judges

COURT APPEAL ... Stephen Fagan lost his court battle.
COURT APPEAL ... Stephen Fagan lost his court battle.

A RAPIST who attacked a woman in her South Tyneside home and tried to stop his name from being published in case he became a “target for hostility” did not deserve any special treatment, three senior judges said.

Stephen Fagan was embroiled in a legal dispute with the Ministry of Justice when he began publicly-funded action in an attempt to win the right to live in Scotland after his release on licence.

Fagan was jailed for 14 years in 2006 after breaking into a house, drugging a woman with heroin and raping her.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the victim’s son walked in during the attack.

Fagan, now in his late 40s, got in through a window, tied the woman up, drugged her and then raped her twice. He denied two counts of rape, and of administering a drug with intent to commit a crime, but was convicted.

Fagan, of Airdrie, Lanarkshire, lost his appeal in September and senior judges in London ruled he could be named after newspapers argued the public had a right to know.

He said he now wanted to re-settle in Airdrie and said members of his family might become a “target of hostility” if his return was reported.

And his lawyers argued that there was a need to “prevent the risk of violence”.

Yesterday, the reasons behind the judges’ decision were published.

“There is nothing in the position of Stephen Fagan himself as an offender, which could justify any derogation from the general principle,” said one appeal judge, Lord Justice Aikens.

“His trial was public and his conviction and sentence were public knowledge.

“It would be known to the public that, after he had served half his sentence in prison, he would be released on licence and under the management of the probation service.

“In those respects, Stephen Fagan’s position is no different from any other prisoner.

“Many defendants convicted of serious crimes also have wives or partners and children – and they are often young children.

“The possibility of a hostile reaction against the family of an offender who has committed a serious sexual or violent offence must be general.”

Lord Justice McFarlane and Lady Justice Sharp, who also looked at the case, agreed.

High Court judge Mr Justice Irwin had analysed the anonymity issue at a hearing in London in May and given his judgment in June.

He said Hugh Southey QC, for Fagan, had suggested anonymity was necessary “to prevent the risk of violence” and argued members of Fagan’s family might become a “target of hostility”.

Mr Southey had accepted Fagan’s dispute with the Ministry of Justice over where he should be allowed to re-settle raised a legitimate public interest, but the case could be properly addressed if it was done anonymously and argued there was no general public interest in knowing where ex-offenders were settled.

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