TWO national newspapers have been accused of contempt of court after they published photographs on the internet of a Sheffield man posing with a gun while he was standing trial for murder.
The Daily Mail and The Sun published a picture of Ryan Ward, holding a gun, which he posted himself on the internet before he killed his neighbour Craig Wass.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC has asked the High Court to punish the newspapers in what is believed to be the first case of its kind.
Andrew McCullough QC, for the Attorney General, argued publication of the pictures created a substantial risk the trial could have been “seriously impeded or prejudiced” by jurors seeing them.
He said both newspapers had breached the Contempt of Court Act, which makes it clear publishing an article or picture may be contempt, even though there is no actual “intent” to interfere with the course of justice.
The cases arise out of the Sheffield Crown Court trial of Ryan Ward in 2009, who was convicted of murdering mechanic Craig Wass by hitting him over the head with a brick.
Ward, of Phillips Road, Loxley, was jailed for life and told he would serve at least 14 years in prison.
Both newspapers argued the risk of prejudice was “insubstantial”, and the trial judge had repeatedly warned jurors not to consult the internet.
Judge Michael Murphy QC opted against discharging the trial jury and starting the case again saying he was “quite satisfied” none had been influenced by the net.
High Court judges Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Owen will give their decision shortly.