First riot appeals listed next week

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The Independent Online

The first appeals by people convicted of being involved in the August riots are due to be heard next week.

They will include challenges by two men who were jailed for four years for setting up Facebook pages inciting others to riot.

A Judicial Office spokesman confirmed today that 10 cases stemming from the rioting and looting in several English cities have so far been listed in the Court of Appeal for Tuesday.

The names of all those seeking to appeal their sentences will formally be confirmed on Monday.

It is expected that the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, will head the panel of judges hearing the cases.

One of the key issues for the appeal court will be whether tough sentences handed down were "proportionate" in the light of the seriousness of the riots, or whether they were excessive.

Some defence lawyers and civil rights groups condemned sentences, in which sentencing guidelines were often departed from, as "disproportionate".

The Facebook cases to be heard involve the jailing of Jordan Blackshaw, 20, of Northwich, Cheshire, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Warrington, Cheshire.

Chester Crown Court heard that Blackshaw set up a Facebook "event" called Smash Down in Northwich Town but nobody turned up at the pre-arranged meeting point outside a McDonalds restaurant.

Sutcliffe-Keenan's page, The Warrington Riots, invited people to "riot" on the evening of Wednesday August 10 between 7pm and 10pm.

Both men pleaded guilty to intentionally encouraging another to assist the commission of an indictable offence under sections 44 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

Chris Johnson, of Mosshaselhurst solicitors, acting for Blackshaw, and Sutcliffe-Keenan's lawyer Rebecca Tanner, from Tranters solicitors, both confirmed the appeals would be heard on Tuesday before the Lord Chief Justice.

So far, more than 1,700 people have appeared before the courts in connection with the riots, with 300 sentenced.

Police are still hunting for other alleged participants in the rioting and looting in London and other cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham.