England riots: Court of Appeal hears sentence appeals

Emergency services in Tottenham, north London
Image caption Three nights of rioting broke out in English cities after a protest over a police shooting in north London

The Court of Appeal has heard appeals by 10 people jailed over August's riots and looting in England.

Lawyers for two men each jailed for four years for inciting riots on Facebook, told judges their custodial terms were "manifestly excessive".

The court will decide whether sentences for crimes ranging from burglary to violent disorder were too high - with a judgement expected next week.

More than 1,700 people accused over the riots have gone before the courts.

And more than 300 sentences have been handed down so far.

'Monumentally foolish'

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, of Northwich, Cheshire, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Warrington, Cheshire, were jailed last month after admitting encouraging a riot on Facebook which never happened.

Their lawyers told the three Court of Appeal judges their clients' behaviour was "monumentally foolish" and "hugely shortsighted" but insisted their sentences were too long.

The eight other people whose cases were heard on Tuesday were:

  • Coach driver David Beswick, 31, of Anson Street, Eccles, jailed for 18 months for handling stolen goods
  • Chef Enrico Vanasco, 25, jailed for 20 months after admitting burglary relating to a £300 camera
  • Hassan Halloway, 39, of Bennett Street, Crumpsall, who was jailed for four years and eight months after admitting burglary charges and violent disorder
  • Territorial Army soldier Lorraine McGrane, 19, from Peckham, south-east London, jailed for 13 months after admitting stealing a television
  • Stephen Carter, 26, of James Street, Salford, Greater Manchester, who was caught with a bag of clothes and shoes worth £500 and jailed for 16 months for theft by finding
  • Michael Gillespie-Doyle, 19, from Openshaw, Manchester, who admitted burglary and was sentenced to two years in a young offenders institution
  • Stephen Craven, 24, of Salford, jailed for 12 months after pleading guilty to handling stolen goods
  • Hasan Koyuncu, 18, sentenced at London's Wood Green Crown Court to 12 months in a young offenders institution for burglary

The three judges heard that Halloway "just became involved" when he found his gym in Manchester was closed because of the riots.

The 39-year-old threw a brick and stole alcohol, chocolate and cigarettes, the court heard.

His lawyer told the court "he merely followed", to which the Lord Chief Justice said "he's not a boy of 10".

Vanasco, meanwhile, went into Manchester city centre "effectively out of curiosity and voyeurism", the court heard.

His counsel said his client's sentence was "manifestly excessive" and he stood to lose his home, job and partner.

McGrane was heading home from a relative's house after a weekend of military training and became "sucked in", the judges were told.

She stole from an Argos store in a "moment of madness".

Koyuncu, who had special educational needs, became "caught up" in looting on 6 August - the first night of trouble, the court was told.

His lawyer, Claire Palmer, said her client had expressed his regret to his probation officer.

MPs, legal figures and justice campaigners have previously argued that disproportionate sentences have been handed down.

Violence broke out in the north London borough of Tottenham last month after a protest over the fatal police shooting of local man Mark Duggan.

Between 6 and 9 August, the disorder spread to several other English cities, including Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham. Shops were looted, buildings burned and the deaths of five people have been linked to the rioting.

Ministry of Justice figures released earlier this month showed that burglary was the most common offence relating to the riots. It accounted for 44% of charges, compared with violent disorder at 22%.

Just over half those who had appeared in court were aged 20 or under.

At the completion of the hearing, the three Court of Appeal judges reserved their decision and said they would try to give their ruling next week.

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