Caergwrle teenagers' Facebook riots message 'stupid'

Two teenagers who posted "let's firebomb Wrexham" on their Facebook sites during the riots in England did so as a joke, a court heard.

Thomas Hughes, 19, and Jack Lewis, 19, both of Caergwrle near Wrexham, had been immature and stupid, Flintshire magistrates were told.

The initial charge of inciting a riot was later dropped and they admitted an offence of sending a menacing message.

They were placed on a community order having already spent time in custody.

The court heard there had never been any intention to start a riot and none of their Facebook friends had taken them seriously.

But the teenagers' "bad joke" was in extremely bad taste and had a profound effect on them and their families.

They had been on curfew for a week and locked up for five weeks after the initial charge.

Their lawyers argued it would be cruel and unjust to send Hughes and Lewis back into custody.

District Judge Andrew Shaw said if he had been treating the case afresh he would have sentenced them both to three months detention.

But they had already had a spell in custody and attended court twice expecting to return to custody.

The charge of inciting a riot had previously been dropped, replaced with sending a menacing message under The Telecommunications Act.

'Foolish comments'

They were given a one-month community order under which they will be tagged to remain indoors between 8pm and 8am for two weeks.

"I am sentencing you on the basis of immature and foolish comments rather than a serious attempt to incite a riot," said the judge.

He said the danger was that their comments could have been picked up and run with by someone else in a completely different and more dramatic way.

They had the chance to think about what they had done, they were sorry and did regret what had happened.

Judge Shaw said that he appreciated that the consequences for the defendants had been dramatic and they had already suffered a substantial penalty.