Birmingham & Black Country

England riots: Teenager claims jail sentence undeserved

A West Midlands teenager jailed for her part in the August looting said she did not deserve to be sent to prison.

Danielle Corns, 19, was sentenced to 10 months in a young offenders' institution for stealing two left-footed trainers from a shop in Wolverhampton.

She handed herself in to the police after CCTV images showed her taking the trainers, which she later threw away.

Speaking before she was sentenced, Corns, from Tildesley Drive in Willenhall, told BBC Inside Out West Midlands: "I just went in there to be nosey. I didn't intend to steal anything. I'm not a bad person. It was just a stupid mistake."

She admitted that she should be punished for what she did but claimed she had not deserved to go to prison.

She said: "I just regret going in that shop. There was no need for me to go in there."

Her solicitor Shabeer Qureshi said her sentence had been "far harsher" than he was expecting.

He said: "People without previous convictions taking a small item from a shop - technically yes it's a burglary - but somebody in those circumstances would ordinarily be getting a community order.

"I'm sure they had an eye on what was being said by the powers that be as well [as] about sending a clear message, and therefore the rulebook really went out the window."

The average sentence handed out to those involved in the riots has been 12 months in jail.

In the West Midlands, police figures show community sentences have been handed out to fewer than one in 10 rioters.

'Grip of fear'

Wolverhampton's Conservative MP Paul Uppal said the sentences had been fair, adding: "I think it's important to go back and remember that there was a grip of fear around not just the city but the whole country."

In a statement, a Ministry of Justice spokesperson said new guidelines about burglary had been set out.

"Magistrates and judges are independent of government and they make their sentencing decisions based on the individual circumstances of each case and offender.

"The tough sentences that have been handed down to rioters send out a strong deterrent message that society will not tolerate the appalling behaviour we saw on our streets.

"The Sentencing Council recently released a new guideline on burglary offences.

"This requires the courts to treat offences committed in the context of public disorders as an aggravating factor, which could result in more severe sentences."

The edition Inside Out West Midlands featuring this story was broadcast on Monday, 12 December and is available on the BBC iPlayer for seven days after that date.

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