Angela Wrightson murder: Teenage killers go to High Court in bid to keep identities hidden

TWO teenage killers who murdered a vulnerable alcoholic in her own home have gone to the High Court in a bid to keep their identities secret for life.

The girls were aged 13 and 14 when they put 39-year-old Angela Wrightson through a five-hour ordeal while posing for Snapchat selfies.

They were handed life sentences at Leeds Crown Court in 2016 and told they must serve a minimum of 15 years behind bars.

Trial judge Mr Justice Globe imposed reporting restrictions preventing the media from identifying the killers, on account of them being under 18 and due to their vulnerability.

Both girls have now turned 18, and their lawyers are asking for them to be granted lifelong anonymity.

At a hearing in London, Edward Fitzgerald QC told Mrs Justice Tipples that both girls suffer from “recognisable mental conditions”, adding that they are “extremely psychologically vulnerable”.

There are also concerns that “lifting anonymity would create a very significant risk of harm from third parties”, he said.

Mr Fitzgerald argued: “The claimants live in fear that, if their names are disclosed, they will be attacked. And that affects their mental health and threatens their rehabilitation, and indeed promotes the risk of self-harm or even suicide.”

In documents before the court, Mr Fitzgerald said the pair are seeking “a permanent injunction preventing them from being publicly identified as the murderers of Angela Wrightson”.

As well as risking their psychological health, lifting a ban on naming the girls will “create harm to and anxiety about their families”, the barrister argued.

He added: “It will also seriously prejudice both their therapeutic treatment and their rehabilitation – in which both have only just begun to make progress.”

Mr Justice Globe halted the first trial at Teesside Crown Court and imposed a ban on reporting the second hearing months later in Leeds after he was alerted to hundreds of social media posts written about the girls while the first set of proceedings was under way, and could potentially be seen by jurors.

He later described these as “a blitz of extreme and disturbing comments posted on Facebook by members of the public”.

Miss Wrightson suffered a horrific and prolonged attack at her home in Stephen Street, Hartlepool, in December 2014.

She was hit with a shovel, a TV, a coffee table and a stick studded with screws after she let the girls into her home.

The victim was known locally as Alco Ange, and would let schoolchildren drink in her living room.

Miss Wrightson, who was 5ft 4in and weighed six-and-a-half stone, was found dead in her blood-spattered living room the next morning.

A selfie posted on Snapchat showed the defendants smiling with Miss Wrightson pictured in the background shortly before her death.

After the attack, the girls even boasted to friends about being given a lift home by police, who were unaware of the murder.

They took a photo which they posted online with the message: “Me and (older girl) in the back of the bizzie van again.”

The Northern Echo | Teesside