Man cleared over riot messages

 

A father was cleared today of posting a series of messages on Facebook to incite looting at the height of the nationwide riots in the summer.

A jury decided unemployed Nathan Sinden, 27, was joking when he wrote comments including: "Let's start a riot in Hastings. Who's on it?"

In postings visible to his 754 Facebook friends, he also wrote: "Looting it is then today. Who's up for shopping?" and followed it up with "Town on lockdown. LOL."

A two-day trial heard that because of his online comments and those of others, shops shut early and 38 police officers were deployed as rumours of potential trouble spread in Hastings town centre, East Sussex, on August 9.

Shaven-headed Sinden, of Blackman Avenue, St Leonards-on-Sea, was arrested the following day but told police he was joking and never had any intention to follow through with his threats.

He denied intentionally encouraging or assisting the commission of burglary and jurors sitting at Hove Crown Court returned a not guilty verdict after deliberating for 30 minutes.

A number of Sinden's friends posted replies to his comments, including one who said: "Well then, I hope your daughter is very proud."

Jurors heard that Sinden replied: "She will be when I've got her loads of new things." He added in another post: "F*** it. Old Bill probably s******* it."

But in a private chat thread on Facebook, Sinden was asked by a friend whether he was serious about his comments and he confirmed he was joking.

Sinden, who the jury heard has previous convictions for theft, criminal damage and violence and disorder, told officers: "You don't expect to believe everything you read on Facebook."

His friend Clinton Smith, a father of two, also said he believed he was joking and that there was no serious threat behind his comments.

Mr Smith, a part-time graphic designer and supermarket worker, said: "I took it as a joke straight-away. I thought he was being ironic.

"When I added my comment, 'Yeah, I'm going straight down to Poundland', I was also being ironic. I thought people would find it funny.

"I don't believe anyone would act on it. It was literally pure joking - banter among friends." He added: "Maybe my humour is not to everyone's taste but it was intended as a joke."

Sinden left court without comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones