In the Media

UK riots: court of appeal upholds lengthy sentences

PUBLISHED October 18, 2011

Prison tariffs for looters and those using Facebook to incite rioting during August disturbance appropriate, say senior judges Lengthy prison sentences imposed on youths who used Facebook to incite riots and on offenders who took part in looting have been upheld by the court of appeal. But three men who pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods during the disturbances in August had their prison terms halved by the panel of senior judges. Addressing the overall context of the riots, the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, said: "The level of lawlessness was shocking and wholly inexcusable. "The imposition of severe sentences, intended to provide both punishment and deterrence, must follow. "The context hugely aggravates the seriousness of each individual offence ? The sheer numbers involved may have led some of the offenders to believe that they were untouchable and would escape detection." Two young men, Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Surcliffe-Keenan, who had both posted invitations to riots on Facebook pages saw their four-year sentences confirmed by the court. "When dealing with these two appeals we are conscious that in the end no actual harm in the streets of Northwich and Warrington actually occurred," the lord chief justice observed. But, he added, "decent citizens" were appalled by what they read. "Modern technology has done away with the need for such direct personal communication. "It is a sinister aspect of these cases that modern technology almost certainly assisted rioters in other places to organise the rapid movement and congregation of disorderly groups in new and unpoliced areas." In respect of burglaries committed during the street violence, Lord Judge found none of the five appeals merited reductions in sentence. The prison and youth detention terms handed down by courts in London and Manchester to Hassan Halloway, Enrico Vanasco, Michael Gillespie-Doyle, Hassan Koyuncu and Lorriane McGrane ranging from four years and eight months to one year were all confirmed. Sentences given in three handling cases, involving Stephen Craven, David Beswick and Stephen Carter, were, however, reduced. Of these, the court of appeal noted: "Each represents opportunistic involvement after the burglaries had occurred and although in close proximity to the scenes of the disorder, the appellants did not participate or contribute to them. The sentences must recognise these distinctions." The written judgment makes clear that "this is not a new found sentencing policy". It refers to decisions given following a riot in Cambridge 41 years ago. That 1970 judgment, quoted at length, says: "When there is wanton and vicious violence of gross degree the court is not concerned with whether it originates from gang rivalry or from political motives. It is the degree of mob violence that matters and the extent to which the public peace is broken." UK riots Court of appeal UK criminal justice Crime London Owen Bowcott © 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