In the Media

Man cleared of inciting looting in Facebook posts during riots

PUBLISHED November 17, 2011

Jury clears Nathan Sinden of inciting burglary after online comments helped spread rumours of trouble in Hastings A man has been cleared of inciting looting after posting messages on Facebook at the height of the summer riots across England. A jury decided that Nathan Sinden, an unemployed 27-year-old, was joking when he wrote comments including: "Let's start a riot in Hastings. Who's on it?" In postings visible to his 754 Facebook friends, he also wrote: "Looting it is then today. Who's up for shopping?" and followed it up with "Town on lockdown. LOL." A two-day trial heard that because of his online comments and those of others, shops in the East Sussex seaside town shut early and 38 police officers were deployed as rumours of potential trouble spread on 9 August. When Sinden, of Blackman Avenue, St Leonards-on-Sea, was arrested the following day, he told police he was joking and had no intention of acting on his threats. He denied intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of burglary, and a jury at Hove crown court returned a not guilty verdict after deliberating for 30 minutes. A number of Sinden's friends posted replies to his comments, including one who said: "Well then, I hope your daughter is very proud." Jurors heard that he replied: "She will be when I've got her loads of new things." In a private Facebook chat thread, he was asked by a friend whether he was serious about his comments, and confirmed he was joking. Sinden ? who the jury heard has previous convictions for theft, criminal damage and violence and disorder ? told police: "You don't expect to believe everything you read on Facebook." He left court without comment. UK riots Crime Facebook Social networking © 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds