Now that the London riots are over, news making headline seems to be the so-called harsh punishments on those caught in the riots. Scotland Yard has now charged a total of 1,005 suspects after 1,733 arrests so far. But based on the amazing punishments there were debates if the courts were being consistent? Judges and magistrates have sentencing guidelines to work to. However when the interests of justice require it, riots could be a deadly thing to do, judging from how the courts punished them.
Prime Minister David Cameron has defended courts for handing out “tough” sentences for those involved in the riots across England but some MPs and campaigners say there were examples of terms being too harsh. Nevertheless, the PM said it was good that the courts were sending a “tough message”. Here are some amazing cases making the headlines which may blow off your mind.
- A college student with no criminal record was jailed for six months for stealing a £3.50 case of bottled water during a night of rioting. Nicolas Robinson, 23, of Borough, south-east London, carried out the “opportunistic” theft at a Lidl supermarket in Brixton as he walked home from his girlfriend’s house. Robinson threw away the water and ran when he was confronted by police but was arrested and quickly admitted what he had done.
- David Atto, 18, pleaded guilty to the theft of two Burberry T-shirts, worth about £60. He told the police he had found them on the pavement. He pleaded guilty, had no relevant previous convictions, and was sentenced to a day in custody.
- An 11-year-old girl and a 17-year-old trainee dancer were among the alleged London rioters brought before the courts and charged with criminal damage. The trainee dancer from Croydon who was caught taking two televisions from her local Richer Sounds, handed herself in after her picture was published in the paper and on television.
- Thomas Downey, 48, a serial offender who went to a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous before downing a bottle of sherry couldn’t help himself to a box of doughnuts when 20 riot officers arrived. Downey’s lawyer justified that her client had left prison with only £4 in his pocket and was very hungry and therefore help himself to the doughnuts but that wasn’t enough to impress the judge. Downey was slapped with 16 months of jail.
- Conrad McGrath, 21, from Stockport, who is studying English at Aberystwyth university was jailed for 16 months for taking alcohol from Tesco Express on Oxford Street.
- David Swarbrick, 25, was jailed for two years after he stole £25 worth of Oil of Olay from a Quality Save store in Parker Street, which was unsecured after an earlier riot attack.
- Anthony Winder, 38, father-of-four, looted the Swarovski Crystal store and smashed a display cabinet to get an ornamental dog and for that he was sentenced to 2 years of jail
- Jordan Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, have been given 4 years in prison for attempts to incite riots on Facebook during recent riots. Apparently Jordan Blackshaw set up an “event” called Smash Down in Northwich Town for the night of 8 August on the social networking site but no one apart from the police, who were monitoring the page, turned up at the pre-arranged meeting point outside a McDonalds restaurant. Blackshaw was promptly arrested. Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan of Latchford, Warrington, used his Facebook account in the early hours of 9 August to design a web page entitled The Warrington Riots. The court was told it caused a wave of panic in the town. When he woke up the following morning with a hangover, he removed the page and apologised, saying it had been a joke.
- Anderson Fernandes, 22, was charged with burglary in Manchester after he took two scoops of coffee ice-cream and a cone from Patisserie Valerie in the city centre. He gave the cone away because he didn’t like the flavour. Fernandes admitted burglary and is expected to be sentenced next week.
- Coach driver David Beswick was jailed for 18 months for accepting £20 from a looter to “look after” a 37-inch flat-screen TV in the boot of his car. It had been stolen from the Cash Generator shop in Salford, Manchester.
- Model Shanola Smith was jailed for six months after she was caught with 10 packets of chewing gum that she stole during unrest in Croydon.
- Ursula Nevin, 24, who slept through the riots in Manchester, was jailed for five months because she accepted a pair of shorts looted by her flatmate Gemma Corbet.
As much as you may think that those culprits should be shot instead, let’s consider some of the non-riots cases which were given the same treatment. Some cried that the 4 years in prison for Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan were too harsh considering Tesfaye Bramble, the brother of footballer Titus, was actually jailed for 4 and a half years on 5 August for the rape of a 19-year-old. If you think rape is not serious enough, how about the case of Rajinder Dutt, 31, who was merely jailed for 4 years for supplying heroin (with value of £1.3m) in November 2008?
Now, before Malaysian Government pick-up this article and immediately screams still foam at mouth that the recent Bersih 2.0 rally participants should be slapped with similar jail sentences, they have to first distinguish between a rally and a riot. Both are different although they start with the same letter “R”. But considering the level of intelligence these politicians have, they may even equate rally with “rape” or “rogol”.
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