Mother denies trying to incite riot

A single mother has denied attempting to incite a riot, saying comments made by BlackBerry Messenger were a joke.

Elisha Smithers, 18, appeared before Colchester Magistrates' Court today charged with encouraging the commission of an indictable offence during nationwide rioting earlier this month.

The court heard that she wrote: "Lets start a riot at the train station, set some cars on fire and all alight, ha ha ha."

Julie Brice, defending Smithers, of Carnival Road, Clacton, Essex, said no trouble resulted from the message and that her client denied the charge on the basis that it had been meant in humour.

She said her client was the sole carer of her young son.

Smithers was released on bail on the condition that she is electronically tagged and does not access social networking sites until her next appearance at Chelmsford Crown Court on October 24.

In a separate case at the same court, Tommy Tucker, 20, of Mareth Road, Colchester, was remanded in custody after appearing accused of encouraging the commission of an indictable offence.

The court heard he is accused of sending two messages on Blackberry messenger between August 7 and 10 which were intercepted by police

The first is alleged to have said: "Anyone want to start a riot in Colchester? 100pc serious."

The later message said: "Apple shop in town is on fire - Colchester has started."

Tucker did not enter a plea and will appear before Chelmsford Crown Court on November 7.

Essex Police had originally said his offences were linked to an attempt to start a water fight.

The force now says it was a different person who encouraged the water fight and that suspect has now been released without charge.