UK

England riots: Woman wins sentence appeal

  • 19 August 2011
  • From the section UK
Ursula Nevin
Image caption Ursula Nevin wept as her sentence was reduced

A judge has released a woman who was jailed for accepting looted shorts in what is thought to be the first appeal against a sentence over the unrest.

Ursula Nevin, 24, was jailed for five months in Manchester, but has now been ordered to do community work.

MPs and campaigners have said some of the sentences given to those involved in England's riots were too harsh.

Meanwhile, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited areas in Birmingham hit by last week's rioting.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said 1,375 people had appeared before the courts on charges relating to the disturbances. The majority of these were for offences of burglary, theft and handling stolen property, and violence and violent disorder.

Some 62% of those charged have been remanded into custody. This compares to a remand rate of 10% for serious offences during 2010.

Earlier this week, Nevin was jailed by a district judge who heard she had been asleep at home during the riots but later accepted the shorts which had been looted from a city centre shop by a friend.

She was freed by Judge Andrew Gilbart QC at Manchester Crown Court on Friday, and ordered to do 75 hours' unpaid work.

The judge, who earlier this week justified severe sentences for rioters, said he was setting aside the prison sentence because Nevin had not actually taken part in the riots.

On Wednesday, some MPs, civil liberties campaigners and lawyers said some sentencing had been excessive, warning that many jail terms would be reduced on appeal.

Royal visit

Following Nevin's appeal, the Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, said justice "must be administered effectively and fairly and with calm heads".

"We must avoid unnecessary cost to the public purse that could arise from dealing with wrongful convictions or sentences that go on to be challenged," a spokesman said.

In Birmingham, Prince William and his wife Kate met the families of three men who were knocked down and killed during the rioting.

Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali, and Abdul Musavir were hit by a car as they protected stores from looters.

The royal couple also met members of the emergency services and others affected by the violence.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police have released a further set of CCTV images of suspects as part of the continuing investigation into rioting in London.

It has a dedicated website displaying the images of people it wants to speak to. The Flickr website is also hosting the photos.

Social media

MoJ figures show the prison population is rising at a rate of more than 100 a day in England and Wales as courts deal with the aftermath of the unrest.

Prisoner numbers have increased to a record high of 86,654, beating last week's total of 85,523.

Prison governors have been warned about the safety of inmates after three prisoners held on remand over the riots were assaulted.

The incident at Cookham Wood young offenders' institution in Kent saw two of them needing hospital treatment.

Image caption Full CCTV images of suspects can be viewed by clicking through to the dedicated Met Police website

And the major social networking websites have been called to the Home Office next Thursday to discuss the English riots.

So far, only Facebook has confirmed its attendance, although Blackberry has suggested it will also be there.

Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry have all been criticised after it emerged that some rioters may have used them to plan trouble or encourage others.

Facebook said that it welcomed the opportunity to discuss the matter with Theresa May.

"We look forward to meeting with the home secretary to explain the measures we have been taking to ensure that Facebook is a safe and positive platform for people in the UK at this challenging time," it said in a statement.

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