A PAEDOPHILE who fought to stop the public knowing about his crimes can finally be named today after The Bolton News won a 19 month-long legal battle.

Rocky Knight faced accusations, which he eventually admitted, that he had possessed and distributed indecent images of children.

But while he pleaded guilty in July 2017, he was determined that no one outside the court should know about his crime and sought to persuade a judge to grant him anonymity.

READ MORE: How Rocky Knight used mobile phone to distribute extreme indecent images of children

Knight claimed he and his family would be at risk of being harmed if his identity came to light as he argued that such offences are not tolerated in the traveller community to which he belongs.

But The Bolton News believed he was merely trying to avoid the inevitable public shame which accompanies convictions for offences involving indecent images of children, challenged his application and appointed a barrister to fight the case.

As the case was proceeding through Bolton Crown Court Judge Richard Gioserano made an order postponing reporting of proceedings to give Knight time to produce evidence backing up his claim that he would be at risk if his name was known in connection with such an offence.

READ MORE: Comment - why we fought so hard to name convicted paedophile 

Throughout 22 hearings 47-year-old Knight made claims, which could not be verified, that he and his family would be in danger from others in his community.

Judge Gioserano initially threw out his anonymity application in July last year but kept an order in place postponing reporting of proceedings until Knight decided seek a judicial review or could produce further evidence to support his assertions that other travellers had been attacked by members of their community for similar offences and he would be targeted too.

He alleged that threats had been made against him after his conviction, in 2017, for illegal puppy farming.

To back up his claim he produced photographs of graffiti, calling him a dog killer, which has been daubed on the walls of his home.

But the graffiti was only reported to police in August last year, eight months after the puppy farming conviction and after Judge Gioserano had initially rejected Knight’s anonymity application.

READ MORE: Rocky Knight was previously jailed after he raised sick puppies in squalid and ‘inhumane’ conditions before selling them to families

Knight also produced online articles about other travellers who had died or been attacked but non of the incidents were associated with the defendant.

The case came back to court yesterday and Judge Gioserano found that the additional “evidence” he presented had only been from online searches and none of the cases had any connection with Knight.

The judge stated that the evidence presented by Knight “even if admissible, does not justify granting anonymity.”

“Even if others have suffered in this way ... no persons involved had any connection with the defendant,” said the judge.

Judge Gioserano ruled that there was no evidence of any real and immediate risk to Knight and his family from him being identified.

Barrister Gervase de Wilde, was appointed by the Bolton News’s parent company, Newsquest, to represent the newspaper in court at one of the earlier hearings.

Mr de Wilde stressed that anonymity can only be granted where there is a real and immediate danger to life which can be objectively verified and Knight’s assertions could not be.

Judge Gioserano stated that Knight’s claims of possible violence, or even death, against himself were “merely subjective” and “not supported by any objective evidence, let alone clear and cogent evidence”.

Rejecting Knight’s application for anonymity, Judge Gioserano said: “The defendant is, no doubt, anxious to avoid the nature of his offending becoming widely known in case others may think he has a sexual interest in children and react adversely towards him as a result — this is no more than him fearing the inevitable consequences of his offending, just as many others convicted of similar offending may fear the same.”

In outlining the law explaining his decision to refuse to grant anonymity, Judge Gioserano stated: “A very important aspect of the public interest in the administration of criminal justice is that the identity of those convicted (and sentenced) for criminal offences should not be concealed — some defendants may find that an unpleasant prospect but that is a direct consequence of their offending.”

The Bolton News has a duty to be the eyes and ears of the public in court, identifying those who are guilty of wrongdoing and it is in the public interest that the principle of open justice is upheld. This ensures that crimes are not tried and sentenced behind closed doors and the public has a right to know who offenders are and about their crimes.

It was important that no individual, from any section of society, should be able to keep their crimes secret where others similarly convicted are not afforded such anonymity.