England riots: Weekend opening for riot courts

The BBC's Danny Savage says a man has appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court charged with robbing an injured student

Courts in London and Manchester have opened over the weekend as the number of people charged for riot-related offences reaches more than 1,000.

Those in court include a man charged with mugging a Malaysian student and a man with 21 previous court appearances.

A total of 2,275 people have been arrested, and extra police numbers are being maintained over the weekend.

Meanwhile, a man and a teenager have been charged with the murders of three men hit by a car in Birmingham.

Haroon Jahan and brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir were struck as they guarded shops from looters during disorder on Tuesday.

Earlier, their families praised people for their calm response following the event.

In Ealing, west London, a vigil has taken place in memory of a man attacked during rioting on Monday night.

About 100 people said prayers and lit candles at the vigil for 68-year-old Richard Bowes who died in hospital just before midnight on Thursday.

A post-mortem examination was held on Saturday giving the cause of death as a head injury.

At the scene

Local people are calling Richard Bowes a hero.

A hero who tried to do the right thing in the face of all that went wrong in Ealing on Monday night.

He paid with his life. On Saturday, local churches organised a vigil. They said prayers for the 68-year-old who was attacked when he tried to put out a fire set by looters.

On Saturday evening, passersby, families and churchgoers paid tribute to his bravery. They lit candles and signed a condolence book. Some were in tears, others still in shock. How was it, they asked, that violence that began in inner city areas like Tottenham, had spread so rapidly and with such force to their leafy corner of the world.

Rev Sally Hitchiner, who has worked in the area for two years, said the old and the very young feared trouble could erupt again.

It was only by "reclaiming the streets" that law-abiding citizens would feel safe.

She urged the congregation to go out, support local traders and go about their daily business. It would send out a signal, she said, that the people of Ealing could forgive and move on.

Scotland Yard said a man was arrested on Saturday on suspicion of his murder, rioting and carrying out three burglaries.

They are continuing to appeal for witnesses or anyone with mobile phone footage of the incident to come forward.

US President Barack Obama has praised Britain's police and politicians for "steadiness" while handling the riots.

In a phone conversation with David Cameron, he said he shared the prime minister's hope that the situation would remain calm.

In other developments related to last week's rioting in London, the East and West Midlands, Manchester, Liverpool and Gloucester:

  • Some police have described the appointment of US "supercop" Bill Bratton to advise PM David Cameron as a "slap in the face".
  • A fifth man has been arrested over the death of Trevor Ellis, who was found with bullet wounds in a car in Croydon, south London, during Monday night's rioting. The 26-year-old from Sutton is being held on suspicion of murder.
  • A 33-year-old man has become the fourth person arrested in connection with a fire that destroyed the Reeves Furniture store during rioting in Croydon on Monday.
  • Images of suspects continue to be displayed to shoppers on a large city centre screen in Birmingham.
  • Chancellor George Osborne has dismissed calls to reverse cuts to police budgets, telling BBC Radio Four's Today programme that violent disorder meant tackling "deep-seated social problems", not scaling back austerity measures.
  • Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has been visiting Manchester, where more than 100 premises in the city and in nearby Salford were looted during disturbances.
  • On a visit to riot-hit Hackney in east London, Labour leader Ed Miliband reiterated his calls for a public inquiry into the riots, saying it was imperative to have a "national discussion" to address the issues behind the disturbances.
  • Metropolitan Police, which has now arrested 1,125 people and charged 750, has released a further 44 images of suspects thought to be involved in rioting.
  • Merseyside Police have also released CCTV images of people it wants to speak to over the riots.
  • Greater Manchester Police say they have been "inundated" with tip-offs in response to their "Shop a Looter" campaign.

Four courts have sat in London while Manchester Magistrates' Court has seen about 30 riot-related cases.

On Saturday, Westminster Magistrates' Court dealt with cases which included Reece Donovan, 21, of Cross Road, Romford, east London, who was remanded in custody charged with robbing Malaysian student Asyraf Haziq in Barking on Monday.

Reece Jackson, 18, of Holly Park Estate, north London, was accused of breaking into My Cycle bike shop in Barnsbury Street, north London, and stealing £20,000 worth of cycles and for breaking into Food City and stealing £595, 20 packets of cigarettes and causing £3,000 worth of damage. He was remanded in custody.

Manchester Magistrates' Court dealt with Edward Adeyemi, 19, from Enfield, north London, who was charged with taking an iron grid out of the ground and smashing his way into a sports store, allowing scores of people to loot the business in Manchester.

Matthew Chin, 18, of Darville Road, north London, who has been before the courts 21 times but has never received a prison sentence, was warned he was going to jail.

At Westminster Magistrates Court he admitted violent disorder and attempted burglary of a Carphone Warehouse on Holloway Road, London.

The court - along with Birmingham Magistrates Court - will hear cases on Sunday, a move which the Ministry of Justice has called "highly unusual".

Manchester magistrate Richard Monkhouse warned against a "knee-jerk reaction" to the violence.

"Simply to say that locking somebody up is the only option is not sensible," he said.

Court drawing of Reece Donovan Reece Donovan was in court charged with robbing Malaysian student Asyraf Haziq

"Sometimes you think, well, are we actually trying to do this too quickly. Are we trying to do this without all the full information that magistrates can assess what the seriousness of the offence and who the offender is?"

Human rights barrister Matthew Ryder said rushing cases through court was a "recipe for problems".

"A fair result's much harder to attain if you're trying to do things very, very quickly. It may mean that people who have a minor role will be elevated and people who have a serious role won't be properly identified," he added.

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