Socialist Worker

‘Feeding frenzy’ in courts after riots

by Tom Walker
Issue No. 2267

Police during the riot in Enfield last month. The state wants revenge for losing control of the streets (Pic: Smallman )

Police during the riot in Enfield last month. The state wants revenge for losing control of the streets (Pic: Guy Smallman)

A man has been jailed for 16 months—for “looting” an ice cream during the riots.

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 as he didn’t like the taste.

Judge Michael Henshell, sentencing, admitted that the theft of “items as trivial as ice cream cones… could be described as low-level offending”.

But he still ordered Anderson to be locked up for the “burglary”.

It is just the latest in a stream of draconian sentences as the state tries to wreak its revenge for the riots last month.

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

Many are even being locked up despite stealing nothing whatsoever.

Jason Aitchison, 27, was part of a group that forced their way into a jewellery store in Manchester’s Northern Quarter—but didn’t take anything. He was jailed for four years.

In Birmingham, a 14-year old boy faces jail for receiving stolen goods—after accepting ten Twirl chocolate bars.

Court papers call the offence “a grave crime”, which means he can be sentenced as an adult to more than two years in jail. He has pleaded not guilty.

As the prison population hit another record high this week, even a prison governor, Eoin McLennan-Murray, came out against the harsh sentences.

“It’s like when you’ve got sharks and there’s blood in the water and it’s a feeding frenzy,” he said. “There’s a sentencing frenzy and we seem to have lost all sight of proportionality.”


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.

In London, the police have put up a gallery of pictures on ­photo‑sharing site Flickr of people who have been convicted—complete with their addresses.

The latest court figures show 1,474 have appeared in court so far. 1,204 are waiting to face trial in a higher court—and 70 percent of them are in jail, remanded in custody.

The police claim they will spend another two years going through 40,000 hours of CCTV footage.

Yet just last month senior cop Peter Clarke said the police didn’t investigate phone hacking because it “didn’t justify” the resources.

A defence campaign has been launched in Tottenham, north London. Some 70 people attended a meeting last week.

Activists gave out legal advice leaflets on the Broadwater Farm estate on Sunday. They were planning to leaflet other estates in the area this week.

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Article information

Tue 30 Aug 2011, 17:11 BST
Issue No. 2267
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