Rioter's sentence reduced after appeal

The detention of a 17-year-old rioting drama student was upheld today by an appeal judge but his sentence was halved.

Joshua Penney was swept along by "mob mentality" as he joined others in entering a Sainsbury's store which had been smashed open by looters on the night of the widespread disorder in Manchester city centre on August 9.

As staff cowered in a locked back room, the defendant joined others who helped themselves to cigarettes and alcohol.

Penney, of Chorlton, was immediately followed into the Bridge Street store by police officers who caught him with a bottle of alcohol in his hands. He put the drink down and allowed himself to be arrested.

He pleaded guilty to burglary on his first appearance at youth court in the city and was later sentenced by magistrates to an eight-month detention and training order - of which half he would serve in a young offenders' institution.

Today in an appeal at Manchester Crown Court his legal team argued that sentence was excessive and should have been dealt with by a community penalty in the form of a youth referral order in which no time would have been served in custody.

Judge Michael Henshell, sitting with two magistrates, rejected that argument but ruled the length of the detention and training order was "too long" and halved it to four months.

Penney, who has no previous convictions, has already served six weeks in custody and now faces only two weeks more in detention.

Judge Henshell said it was a "significant fact" that many of those who had come before the courts for offences committed in the widespread disorder had either no previous or comparatively minor convictions.

"That seems to demonstrate with striking clarity the division between people who are sensible, law abiding and do not go through life committing offences and in a manner of a very short time because of mob mentality in the city centre at this time those who were drawn into offences such as this," he said.

The judge said Penney was a young man who had a difficult start in life and had done well since, but was "dragged into these offences by the mentality of the mob around him".

He had been in the company of an older "more sophisticated" man with 15 previous convictions who was also arrested in the store.

Judge Henshell said: "These offences were serious offences. The offences committed of this sort are out of the ordinary. They are outside the normal guidelines of the offences of this kind. They have to be considered in this way.

"We are satisfied this case does cross the custody threshold. This is not a case that should have been dealt with by way of a referral order but we are of the view that the order was too long. We are satisfied the sentence should have been four months of detention and training."

Helen Richardson, defending, said her client had been studying on a performing arts course at a local community college at the time of the offence.

She said he was understood to be a "gifted young man" and that his headteacher had spoken of him as "polite, respectful, conscientious" and "an absolute pleasure".

The headteacher said that everyone was shocked to hear of his arrest, Miss Richardson added.

Penney had found himself in an situation he was unfamiliar with and was swept along with the crowd, she said.

It was "a moment of complete loss ... of self control", she said.

He was assessed as being a medium risk in terms of vulnerability when he entered custody but is now suffering from "extreme anxiety" and struggling to sleep, the court heard.

She said: "He is having to see a counsellor in the young offenders institute on a weekly basis.

"His headteacher has been to see him and she is extremely worried about his mental health, and I ask that to play a part as to whether the appropriate sentence was a referral order or a detention and training order."

Reporting restrictions were lifted on naming Penney at the original magistrates' court hearing.

Four other defendants, one aged 15, two aged 17 and one now 18, were also scheduled to appeal against their sentences today but opted to deal with the cases next Thursday, following next week's expected judgment by the Court of Appeal on 10 other cases involving adult defendants jailed for committing crimes during August's civil disorder across the country.

Among those listed for appeal in London is that of Michael Gillespie-Doyle, 19, from Openshaw, who was the older man with Penney when he too committed burglary at the Sainsbury's store.

He was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court to two years in a young offenders' institution.


Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower