Hereford & Worcester

Riot inciter Johnny Melfah is given a night curfew

A Worcestershire teenager who admitted inciting thefts and criminal damage on Facebook during recent riots has been given a night-time curfew.

Johnny Melfah, 16, of Thames Avenue, Droitwich, was given the three-month curfew at Worcester Youth Court.

He was told to pay costs, carry out 80 hours' unpaid work and given a 12-month youth rehabilitation order.

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

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

His postings included: "Anyone wanna start some riots in wusta?"

"Anyone down for Brum tomorrow? Free iPads available."

Another read: "Wona go tumora to get inside Bullring! Apple store!!"

Magistrates heard there was no evidence that Melfah's actions on 9 August led directly to any riot-related offences.

Chairman of the bench, Paul Vaughan, said the public needed to be made fully aware of the "legal perils" of the "unfettered use" of social-networking sites.

'A deterrent'

Mr Vaughan said the bench accepted Melfah had been swept along by others and had not intended to start a riot.

"Your postings on Facebook amounted to an incitement," he said.

"We believe that they served to help to fuel a self-feeding horror."

Defence solicitor Sam Lamsdale, said that there had been a large amount of Facebook activity among Melfah and his peers on the day in question.

"I hope that you can accept that this is a young boy foolishly joining in with a conversation on Facebook."

Ch Insp Jerry Reakes-Williams, of West Mercia Police, said: "Hopefully this case will act as a deterrent to anybody else who might be tempted to incite disorder in this way whether out of naivety or with malicious intent."

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