Man jailed for Facebook incitement to riot to appeal

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Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan and Jordan Blackshaw
Image caption,
Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan and Jordan Blackshaw were jailed for four years

A Cheshire man jailed for using Facebook to incite disorder during last week's riots is to appeal against his prison sentence.

Jordan Blackshaw, from Marston, was jailed for four years at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday, along with Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, from Warrington.

Blackshaw's barrister said his 21-year-old client and his family were "somewhat shocked by the sentence".

Sutcliffe-Keenan's solicitor has said he too may appeal against his sentence.

The judge said on Tuesday he hoped the sentences would act as a deterrent.

The men both admitted encouraging crime in Northwich, although there were no outbreaks of disorder in the town.

Blackshaw and Sutcliffe-Keenan pleaded guilty under sections 44 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act to intentionally encouraging another to assist the commission of an indictable offence.

Blackshaw's solicitor, Chris Johnson, of Moss Haselhurst solicitors in Winsford, said his client and his family were "somewhat shocked by the sentence".

Meanwhile, a 19-year-old in Gloucestershire who posted Facebook messages encouraging people to vandalise a shop during last week's riots has avoided court.

Joshua Moulinie posted a message on his Facebook wall urging people to damage the Spar store in his home town of Bream, Forest of Dean.

Media caption,

Rebecca Tanner, solicitor for Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan: "No riot actually did ensue as a result of the post that the defendant posted on the Facebook site"

But instead of facing the courts, Mr Moulinie - who said it was a "blatant joke" - was told to write a letter of apology to the shop owner.

Mr Johnson said the comments made by Blackshaw also "started as a joke".

"Obviously it was rather misplaced and misguided," he added.

"We are not aware of anyone taking up the call that they made.

"Northwich, as far as we understand, has remained peaceful."

Rebecca Tanner, from Tranters solicitors in Manchester, said Sutcliffe-Keenan may appeal against the sentence on the grounds that it was disproportionate to the offence.

"I wouldn't have anticipated it would be as much as four years," she said.

"Obviously, as a 22-year-old, in his situation, knowing that ultimately whilst he'd been extremely foolish, I think he was shocked, given that his view would be he hadn't actually caused any physical hurt, or physical harm, or caused any damage as a result of his actions."

She added: "Yes, we are definitely giving consideration to appealing sentence or applying for leave to appeal."

The Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Carlile, president of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said he was "surprised" by the sentences.

"The Chester sentence was handed out by a very experienced and highly regarded judge who was reflecting the views of the community he serves.

"But the sentences are heavy, and there are no guideline cases for judges to work from for this situation.

Media caption,

Residents in Northwich expressed mixed views about the sentencing of the two men

"I would expect the court of appeal to be asked very soon to provide a guideline case or cases so that judges can provide consistent, if severe, sentences around the country."

'Restorative justice'

The prosecution said Blackshaw had created a Facebook event called "Smash d[o]wn in Northwich Town", intended for the receipt of the "Mob Hill Massive Northwich Lootin".

The page said people should meet on 9 August, between 13:00 and 16:00 BST, "behind maccies" - thought to be McDonald's in Northwich town centre.

Two more people have been charged with inciting public disorder via social network sites and are due to appear in court on Thursday, Cheshire police said.

A 24-year-old man from Runcorn is due to appear at Warrington Magistrates Court and a 17-year-old male from Crewe will appear at Crewe Magistrates Court.

There has also been criticism of the men's sentences from MPs, barristers and campaigners, who have said the sentences handed down to some of those involved in riots across England were too severe.

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said sentences "should be about restorative justice", not retribution, while Labour MP Paul Flynn said the government was "throwing away sentencing rules".

And leading criminal barrister John Cooper QC said he believed some sentences were "over the top" and likely to be overturned by the Court of Appeal.

But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said "exemplary sentences" were necessary and that people needed to understand the consequences of rioting, looting and disorder.

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