Riot inciter Johnny Melfah loses anonymity after court ruling


A boy who admitted inciting thefts and criminal damage on a Facebook page during recent riots has been identified after a court lifted an order.

Johnny Melfah, 16, of Thames Avenue, Droitwich, Worcestershire, admitted posting comments that were designed to encourage theft and criminal damage.

Melfah is thought to be the first juvenile to have his anonymity lifted in a riot-related case.

He is due to be sentenced at Worcester Youth court on 14 September.

Melfah had appeared at a magistrates court on Tuesday and his case was passed to the youth court where he appeared earlier.

He admitted the offences and the chairwoman of the bench lifted the normal automatic ban that applies to naming young people.

BBC legal affairs correspondent Clive Coleman said it was believed to be the first riot-related case where a person aged 17 or under has had their anonymity lifted.

But Shauneen Lambe, director of charity Just For Kids Law, said society had to consider the long-term consequences of naming-and-shaming juvenile offenders.

"I can understand the government feels it has to respond in a certain way to the civil unrest but these are children who are entitled to certain protections under the law," she said.

The impact on the individual is huge, she added.

"If he is no longer able to get the qualifications that he needs to get into employment, then he will become a burden on society rather than the benefit that he has the potential to become."

Shots fired

Widespread disorder broke out across England earlier this month, including disturbances in various parts of Birmingham.

The most notorious outbreak of violence in the city took place in Winson Green, where three men died after being hit by a car in Dudley Road, on 10 August.

Five people have been charged over the deaths of Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31.

Last weekend, West Midlands Police revealed that 11 shots were fired at officers and the force helicopter in the Newtown during the late evening on the night before the three men were killed.

Petrol bombs were also thrown at a marked police car and the Bartons Arms pub was damaged.

Footage analysed

CCTV footage released by the forced showed a group of up to 40 young men, all masked and wearing black clothing, were involved in the incident.

Scientists and researchers have also been analysing riot footage in the city, hoping to learn more about the way crowds behave so preventative measures can be adopted.

Dr Patrick Tissington, associate dean of business partnerships at Aston University, viewed footage of an attack on a sweet shop in Birmingham.

It was targeted during the first wave of disorder on 8 August, in the city centre.

The footage shows one or two young men trying to smash the shop's window before others join as a crowd watches.

Dr Tissington said: "When one person goes at it, several others join in because it's now been established it's OK to do that because someone is doing that and no one is stepping in to stop them."

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