Man cleared over riot messages
Thursday 17 November 2011
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.
General Election 2015: Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind as he casts a line to the disaffected of Grimsby
The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
Indonesia executions: Death row British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford will refuse to wear a blindfold when she faces firing squad
Oxygen-starved 'dead zones' with no marine life up to 100-miles long discovered in the Atlantic Ocean
Russian warships accused of 'chasing away' Swedish vessel to prevent Baltic States from achieving energy independence
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world