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Man to appeal four year sentence for inciting riots on Facebook

Harsh sentences handed out after UK riots
Wed Aug 17 2011, 12:38

A MAN WHO WAS SENTENCED to four years in prison for inciting rioting and looting on Facebook has decided to appeal the sentence, which many have regarded as excessive.

21-year-old Jordan Blackshaw was one of two men jailed on Tuesday after receiving a four year prison sentence from the Chester Crown Court.

Blackshaw created a Facebook group that told people to meet on 9 August between 1pm and 4pm "behind maccies" - most likely the local McDonald's - in Northwhich, where he called for them to begin rioting and looting.

His solicitor, Chris Johnson, claimed it was a "misplaced and misguided" joke and that no one took up arms in Northwhich during the extensive rioting last week across the UK.

Johnson claimed that Blackshaw and his family were shocked by the four year sentence, and they weren't the only ones, as a number of MPs, barristers and campaigners have called the sentences too severe, according to the BBC.

While handing down the sentences the judge said he hoped they would act as a deterrent from further unrest across the country. Communities secretary Eric Pickles echoed this sentiment by saying that it showed there were consequences to public disorder.

"If we cast our minds back just a few days to last week and recall the way in which technology was used to spread incitement and bring people together to commit acts of criminality it is easy to understand the four year sentences that were handed down in court today," said Phil Thompson, assistant chief constable of Cheshire Police.

Considering the nature of the crime and the prison terms given for other offences, it's likely that Blackshaw will draw a shorter sentence in his appeal. He will also likely spend only half of this time in prison if he's let out for good behaviour, but even if the sentence is halved that could still mean about a year behind bars.

While there are calls for a shorter sentence, these harsh prison terms will undoubtedly meet with favour in the UK government, which wants to be seen as stamping down on criminality after the violence and destruction seen last week. The worst thing for its public image would be for the courts to hand out short sentences, but even then, four years in prison for posting on Facebook does seem a little on the harsh side.

The second man, 22-year-old Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, who created another Facebook group inciting public disorder, will likely also appeal his sentence. µ


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