Civil rights groups say some of the sentences handed down to rioters are too severe, as two men are jailed for four years for trying to incite riots on Facebook.
21-year-old Jordan Blackshaw, of Cheshire, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, were both sentenced to four years jail despite neither of the riots the men attempted to organise actually happening.
Blackshaw set up a Facebook event encouraging people to “Smash Down Northwich Town”, while Sutcliffe-Keenan, of Warrington, created the page “Let’s Have a Riot in Latchford”.
But no one apart from the police turned up at the pre-arranged meeting point. Blackshaw was promptly arrested.
Judge Elgan Edwards said the strict punishment was hoped to act as a deterrent to future would-be rioters.
Prosecutors defended the sentences due to the “revulsion” the Facebook pages had caused.
“Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe both used Facebook to organise and orchestrate serious disorder at a time when such incidents were taking place in other parts of the country,” Martin McRobb, Crown Advocate for CPS Merseyside and Cheshire, said.
Some instances are completely out of all proportion. Sally Ireland, Director of the law reform group Justice
“It caused significant panic and revulsion in local communities as rumours of anticipated violence spread”.
In another case, one man was jailed for 18 months for having stolen goods in his car.
The long sentences have raised concern among civil rights groups.
“The circumstances of public disorder should be treated as an aggravating factor and one would expect that to push up sentences by a degree, but not by as far as some of the cases we have seen,” Sally Ireland, policy director of the law reform organisation Justice, said.
“Some instances are completely out of all proportion. There will be a flurry of appeals although, by the time they have been heard, those sentences may already have been served,”she said.
Tough sentences were also handed out to three looters at Manchester Crown Court yesterday.
It caused significant panic and revulsion in local communities as rumours of anticipated violence spread. Martin McRobb, Crown Advocate for CPS Merseyside and Cheshire
David Beswick, 31, Stephen Carter, 26, both from Salford, and Michael Gillespie-Doyle, 18, from Tameside, all pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to a variety of offences during the “unprecedented” large-scale disorder.
But the maximum sentence of six months in jail was deemed not long enough by the lower courts and their cases were moved to Manchester Crown Court.
Judge Andrew Gilbart told the defendants their behaviour warranted sentences longer than if they were committed in isolation.
The sentences came as the Home Secretary Theresa May said she was considering more curfew powers to prevent last week’s disorder.