Jailed loot handler freed on appeal

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.



The Recorder of Manchester, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, ruled today that the decision was "wrong in principle" as he ordered that she should instead perform 75 hours of unpaid work for the community.



Nevin was in bed at the time of the widespread disorder in Manchester city centre where her lodger, Gemma Corbett, helped herself to clothing and footwear from the Vans store and then took them back to the house they shared in Stretford, Greater Manchester.











Nevin wailed in the dock at Manchester Magistrates' Court last Friday as District Judge Khalid Qureshi told her she was supposed to be a role model to her two young sons and criticised her for not speaking up and ordering the stolen haul to be moved out of the house.

Judge Gilbart said today that 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 throughout Manchester city centre and Salford shopping precinct last Tuesday.



"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."



Addressing Nevin, who had no previous convictions, he said: "You must have found yourself, in the circumstances of the last week, trapped in a circle of hell.



"The way you never get into that situation again is to show the courage to say 'no'.



"I am sure the courts will not be troubled by you again. Leave now and look after your children."



The defendant cried as the sentence was reduced, as did family members in the public gallery, including her mother.



Today's hearing at Manchester Crown Court was thought to be one of the first appeals to be heard on a sentence given at a Magistrates' Court involving the disturbances across England last week.









Michael Morley, prosecuting, said it was "perhaps to the misfortune" of the defendant that she had rented a room to Corbett, who was the sister of Nevin's then boyfriend.

Corbett - who was also jailed for 18 months today - went into the city centre with at least one other person on the evening of August 9 and later returned to the house after midnight.



Police received a tip-off that call centre worker Corbett, 24, had been boasting about her exploits by showing off photographs of the stolen goods on her mobile phone.



Corbett was arrested at her workplace in Sale two days later and police went on to search the shared house in North Lonsdale Street.



Mr Morley said: "The defendant said she was aware of Gemma Corbett bringing a number of items home.



"She had tried on one pair of shorts and kept them."



Richard Vardon, defending, said his client had been "torn" with feelings of loyalty to her boyfriend.



He said the "doting" mother had been separated from her children for the first time in their lives.



"She has been devastated by that period of separation and devastated by her first period in custody," he said.



"This is a young lady who has never been arrested.



"In her own words she says she is absolutely disgusted by those who wreaked havoc in this city.



"She is ashamed and humiliated in appearing before a public court. Hers has been a very public humiliation.



"This defendant was no part of any involvement in the looting on the streets of Manchester."



Judge Gilbart interjected: "Which is why it was wrong to send her to prison."



Mr Vardon continued to explain her part was to allow her lodger to return with the stolen goods as she was woken up while her children slept.



"She was put in a terrible posiiton," he said. "The following day she was offered a pair of shorts which, quite foolishly, she accepted."



"This offence was brought upon her by others, one who made no comment to the police.



"She has been incarcerated in an environment which she found extremely challenging."



The court was told that her relationship with her boyfriend was now over, although he sat in the public gallery to support her.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links