Facebook organisers of riots jailed for four years
TWO men who incited rioting on the social-networking site Facebook were jailed for four years yesterday.
The men were the first to be sentenced by crown court judges for their involvement in the mass civil disobedience that swept England.
Jordan Blackshaw (20) and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan (22) were jailed for four years each for inciting the disorder on Facebook despite both being of previous good character.
Blackshaw created an event on the site entitled "Smash Down Northwich Town", while Sutcliffe-Keenan encouraged a riot in Warrington on the same site.
"This happened at a time when collective insanity gripped the nation," said Judge Elgan Edwards, the Recorder of Chester. "Your conduct was quite disgraceful and the title of the message you posted on Facebook chills the blood."
The UK's Ministry of Justice said 1,277 people had so far appeared in court, two-thirds of whom were remanded.
On Monday, magistrates in London had been told they could ignore normal sentencing guidelines in order to hand down tougher penalties for those involved in last week's disturbances.
Blackshaw and Sutcliffe-Keenan were given by far the harshest sentences yet in connection with the riots.
Blackshaw encouraged rioters to meet behind a McDonald's branch at a specified time.
Sutcliffe-Keenan set up a page entitled "Warrington Riots" and invited anyone who wished to be involved on the evening of August 10 to sign up.
Martin McRobb, prosecuting, said: "These posts caused significant panic and revulsion in local communities as rumours of anticipated violence spread."
Assistant Chief Constable Phil Thompson said the sentences sent "a strong message to potential troublemakers about the extent to which ordinary people value safety and order in their lives and communities".
At Manchester Crown Court, Michael Gillespie-Doyle (18), David Beswick (31) and Stephen Carter (26) were all jailed for their part in events in the city last week.
Meanwhile, Theresa May, the British home secretary, yesterday signalled police would get new powers to create "no-go areas" with blanket curfew orders.
In a further sign that the UK government would meet last week's events with an unprecedented crackdown, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said those convicted would be "met at the prison gates" to ensure they then found work.
Tim Godwin, the Scotland Yard acting commissioner, said police considered shutting down Twitter at the height of the disturbances. (© Daily Telegraph, London)