Socialist Worker

Riots: Harshest sentence yet as dozens more rushed through courts

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2266

A man has been jailed for four years and eight months in what is believed to be the harshest riot-related sentence so far.

Hassan Halloway of Crumpsall, north Manchester, was convicted of violent disorder for throwing bricks at two police officers—although both of them missed.

He also admitted burglary charges after taking alcohol from a bar and a Spar shop.

The 39 year old was only arrested when he cut his finger and asked police for medical help.

The sentence is even longer than the outrageous case where two young people were jailed for four years for inciting riots in Cheshire on Facebook, even though no riots ever happened there.

Day after day, courts across the country are working overtime to rush cases through—and lock young people up for years in hearings that can last only minutes.

In another vicious sentence a man has been jailed for 16 months for “looting” an ice cream.

Anderson Fernandes, 22, took two scoops of coffee ice cream and a cone from a posh Manchester cafe after finding the door ajar. He took one lick and then gave it away to a passer-by.

Many are even being locked up despite stealing nothing whatsoever.

Jason Aitchison, 27, of Cheetham Hill went into a jewellery store in Manchester’s Northern Quarter—but didn’t take anything. He was jailed for four years.

Fabrice Bembo-Leta, 19, picked up five t-shirts in a Foot Asylum store but then dropped them.

The keen footballer, who played for the Stalybridge Celtic team, was jailed for two years and eight months.

Callum Marley, 20, of Audenshaw, went into a Cash Generator pawnbrokers but also left empty-handed. He was locked up for 16 months.

In other cases at Manchester crown court just over the last few days:

  • Michael Fitzpatrick, 18, from Walkden was jailed for two years and four months for burglary. He took three shoes from Foot Asylum and a bottle of vodka from a Spar.
  • Dean Millers, 21, from Salford was jailed for two years after his fingerprints were found in a Jessops camera shop.
  • Benjamin King, 20, of Hulme was jailed for 16 months for taking two bags from a Vans shop.
  • Levi Lawrence, 19, of Chadderton was jailed for 16 months. The aspiring photographer went to the city centre to take pictures, but took wine and lager from a Marks and Spencer. He was identified by his mohican haircut
  • Marvin Gigger, 41, from Clayton was jailed for 14 months for stealing £70 of cigarettes from a newsagents.

Judge Michael Henshell, sentencing, admitted that the theft of “items as trivial as ice cream cones, handbags and t-shirts… could be described as low-level offending”. The stiff sentences were down to the fact that it happened during the riots, he added.

In London, the first defendants are only now starting to appear at crown courts, which can give out longer sentences than magistrates.

Richard Bezzina, 43, is one of the first to be sentenced. He was jailed for 20 months after pleading guilty to violent disorder in Hackney.

Meanwhile the first under-18s are being named after the government ordered prosecutors to lift anonymity from minors in riot-related cases.

Socialist Worker is not naming the defendants, but they have been named in other media.

A 16 year old boy who used Facebook to “incite riots” that never happened in Worcester and Droitwich was the first to be named. He will be sentenced next month—and has been told he faces jail.

Two 17 year olds in Manchester were also named.

Southwark council in London is stepping up the attack too by threatening to evict families of people convicted of rioting from council housing.

It has sent 35 letters threatening council housing tenants with eviction if they or their relatives are convicted of offences in the riots.

A protest has been called at its next council meeting on Wednesday 31 August. Assemble 5pm, Southwark Town Hall, Peckham Road.

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