Harsh sentence regime unravels as prison term is quashed on appeal

Judge says five-month sentence for mother-of-two who tried on looted shorts was 'wrong in principle'

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The Independent Online

A woman who accepted a pair of looted shorts from her housemate has walked free from prison after her sentence was reduced on appeal.

Mother-of-two Ursula Nevin, 24, was jailed for five months by a district judge last week after she pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods. But yesterday the Recorder of Manchester, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, ruled that the decision was "wrong in principle" as he ordered that she should instead perform 75 hours of unpaid work for the community. The case is thought to be the first appeal heard on a sentence given at a magistrates' court involving the disturbances.

Nevin, pictured above, was in bed at the time of the widespread disorder in Manchester but her lodger, Gemma Corbett, took part in the looting of the Vans store in the city centre and then took stolen clothes back to the house the pair shared in Stretford, Greater Manchester.

Judge Gilbart said he had indicated in previous sentencing remarks on looters that a distinction could be made for people receiving stolen goods who had not been physically present during the disorder.

"Ursula Nevin did not go into Manchester city centre," he said. "We regard it as wrong in principle that she was subject to a custodial sentence. She must pay some sentence because she knew where the goods had come from. Seventy-five hours of unpaid work appears to be the appropriate figure bearing in mind the guilty plea."

Man in court over attack on Malaysian

A man accused of robbing an injured Malaysian student while pretending to help him during the riots appeared in court yesterday.

Images of a group of men appearing to go to the aid of Asyraf Haziq Rossli, who had sustained a broken jaw in a previous attack, before rifling through his rucksack, proved one of the most shockingly callous images of the disturbances. The footage was watched by nearly three million people on YouTube.

Reece Donovan, 21 – depicted in a court artist's drawing, left – appeared at Wood Green Crown Court accused of robbing the student in Barking on 8 August, stealing his PlayStation Portable and Nokia mobile phone.

During the preliminary hearing, the shaven-headed defendant from Romford, Essex, appeared in the dock wearing a navy tracksuit top and jeans and was remanded in custody until a plea and case management hearing on 10 October. The court heard that another man had been arrested but was on police bail.

William and Kate visit Birmingham

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited a community centre near the spot where three men were killed during last week's riots. The royal couple spent their visit chatting to locals at Summerfield Community Centre in Winson Green.

The centre is a short distance from the scene where three men were struck by a car as they tried to protect shops and homes from looters. Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were buried on Thursday after an open-air funeral service attended by more than 20,000 mourners.

Television thief caught on CCTV pleads guilty

A man who was caught on CCTV walking away with a television he stole from a Manchester shop was jailed for two years and four months after pleading guilty to burglary.

McKenley Pilgrim, 42, admitted stealing the television from Cash Generator in Oldham Street in the city centre. He told police he sold the television for £50 to a passer-by in the street.

The court heard he had 26 previous court appearances for 52 offences ranging from assaulting a police officer to harassment and criminal damage. He had been serving two community orders while committing the burglary.