Socialist Worker

Judge upholds ‘severe’ jail terms for Facebook messages

by Siân Ruddick
Issue No. 2274

People sentenced to some of the harshest jail terms after the summer riots have lost their appeals.

Senior judges in the court of appeal upheld the four‑year jail terms of Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Surcliffe-Keenan. The two young men set up Facebook groups calling for people to meet up in Northwich and Warrington.

No disorder resulted from their messages.

The lord chief justice, Lord Judge, said, “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.”

Five appeals against sentences given for burglary during the riots were also defeated.

But three people sentenced for handling stolen goods had their sentences reduced.

The consequences of the defeats go beyond just “rioters”.

On Monday of this week the trial began of two brothers accused of pulling a mounted cop off his horse during student protests in London on 9 December last year.

Mounted police and baton wielding officers had charged into the protest and students tried to protect themselves.

Christopher Hilliard, 23, and his brother Andrew, 18, are from Cheshire. They are pleading not guilty to the charges.

The trial was adjourned on Tuesday in light of new footage. It is expected to run for two weeks.

Their mother, Jennifer, has helped to initiate campaign group Parents for Real Justice (parentsforrealjustice.org.uk).

Meanwhile over a dozen students who were expecting to be sentenced on Thursday of last week have had their hearings suspended.

The courts are waiting to see how the government and the sentencing council rewrite the rules on disorder sentencing.

This week it was officially announced that sentences for burglary during riots will be dramatically hiked.

Under the new guidelines, offenders convicted of aggravated burglary will face up to nine years in jail if it happened during a riot.

The guideline sentence for aggravated burglary is four years if it doesn’t happen during a riot.

And guideline sentences for non-domestic burglaries will rise from 18 weeks to 51 weeks.

The new guidelines will apply from 16 January.

Home secretary Theresa May wants to go even further.

She has approved police plans to place whole areas under curfew during what the police define as “disorder”.

It will be an offence to refuse to leave the area if requested by police.

Support students and other protesters facing the courts. Go to www.defendtherighttoprotest.org


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News
Tue 18 Oct 2011, 18:59 BST
Issue No. 2274
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