I was watching Media Watch (Monday, 4 July 2022) and saw a segment on how a newspaper got someone's ID totally wrong. It actually surprised the hell out of me because I would probably have made exactly the same mistake.
That mistake is making an assumption, regardless of how highly improbable it might be to think otherwise. Here's what happened.
The Daily Telegraph reported "Robert Dulhunty was found to have stalked and intimidated his partner (TV's Deborah Hutton) of six years".
The paper also reported "In an unrelated matter 'Dulhunty is down to appear before the Supreme Court of NSW over civil proceedings involving White Rock Windfarm ...'
As you've probably guessed, there are two different Robert Dulhuntys.
But, here's where it gets interesting. Both men share the exact same middle name "Venour". Dulhunty isn't exactly a common surname, but Venour as a shared middle name is, quite frankly, astonishing.
So, we have two different men (who are actually aged three years apart) called "Robert Venour Dulhunty".
Media Watch reported that ASIC records show both men listed with two different birthdates. In addition, online searches show photos of the two different men.
So, the lesson to be leant from all of this - don't make any assumptions (regardless of how unlikely the contrary might be) and go the extra distance to confirm ID.
At the very least, when reporting as a investigator or researcher, do not make any statement stating something as a fact unless you are 100% certain it is correct. It's far better (and limits your liability) to report something along the lines of "A person with the exact same name is also recorded as ..." or "We have been unable to confirm both records relate to the same person".
In case you were wondering, the CDA database does include multiple court list records for the name "Robert Venour Dulhunty" covering both the Deborah Hutton and White Rock matters.
A link to the media Watch programme is provided below. You might have register for an Iview account if you don't have one, but that's free to do. be sure to click on the programme for 4 July 2022. To go direct to the relevant segment, skip ahead to 8 min 45 secs into the programme.