Fourth man cleared of 'Facebook' riot charges
Thursday 16 February 2012
A fourth man has been cleared of encouraging rioting or looting via Facebook during last August's civil disturbances.
Christopher Milligan, 26, of Nelson, Lancashire, was accused of intentionally encouraging or assisting rioting through a post on the social networking website.
On August 9 he was said to have wrote : "Riot alert, meeting Duke Bar 8pm. Faces covered, weapons advised, come on peeps."
Milligan, formerly known as Schofield, was cleared by a jury at Lancaster Crown Court earlier this week after it deliberated for just over 90 minutes.
His acquittal follows the same verdicts recently delivered against Karl Manley, 28, Stefan Johnson, 22, and Warren Calvert, 19, who all posted similar messages but argued they were merely joking and did not believe any trouble would take place.
Their fate contrasted with that of Jordan Blackshaw, 21, from Northwich, Cheshire, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, from Warrington, Cheshire, who last year were each jailed for four years for inciting riots on Facebook.
Both men pleaded guilty to encouraging crime in their home towns, although there were no outbreaks of disorder in either location.
Blackshaw's lawyers claimed he was joking.
Their sentences were later upheld by the Court of Appeal.
Friends Manley and Johnson wrote online: "PC World Lancaster, 7.30pm. Let the looting begin. Could do with a new laptop!!!!"
Manley, from Heysham, updated his Facebook status with the message after watching the widespread disorder throughout London on television.
It was then copied by Johnson, from Lancaster, who put the same posting on to his account.
A police support unit and community beat officers were sent to the retail outlet after the message was posted at lunchtime on August 9 but no troublemakers showed up in the evening and no incidents took place.
Both were acquitted last week at Lancaster Crown Court of encouraging or assisting an offence of burglary to be committed, which they believed would happen or would be encouraged.
The jury took 30 minutes in reaching its decision.
The week before in a separate trial, Calvert, 19, of Heysham, told Preston Crown Court he too was joking when he issued an invitation on Facebook to start a riot last August.
The jury in his case took less than 10 minutes to find him not guilty of intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence.
Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers 'terrorists', BBC says
UK weather: Snow to fall in the coming week with sub-zero temperatures to last until early February
Asteroid narrowly scrapes past Earth: how to watch the closest space rock for decades as it flies by
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Prince Philip set to be knighted by Australia: Celebrate by reading his greatest gaffes
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
Islamic history is full of free thinkers - but recent attempts to suppress critical thought are verging on the absurd
30,000 reasons why the rhetoric on immigrants claiming benefits can stop now
- 3 The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
- 4 British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia