Former Eton schoolboy jailed for May Day riot

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The Independent Online

An Eton pupil whose desire for teenage rebellion led him to take part in the May Day riots wearing a balaclava and T-shirt urging the Queen Mother to "hurry up and die" was jailed yesterday for six months.

An Eton pupil whose desire for teenage rebellion led him to take part in the May Day riots wearing a balaclava and T-shirt urging the Queen Mother to "hurry up and die" was jailed yesterday for six months.

The 17-year-old was sent into youth custody for a rampage in London that culminated in his throwing a chair through the window of a McDonald's in Trafalgar Square.

West London Youth Court heard how the boy, who cannot be named, was caught on video hurling objects at police and damaging a metal crowd barrier near Downing Street.

It was claimed the scholarship boy had taken part in the anti-capitalist demonstration out of a misguided need for "activism" after growing embarrassed at being sent to Eton. He wrote a letter "resigning" from the college shortly before the bank holiday march.

Police video footage showed the boy inciting rioters before he threw the chair at the McDonald's restaurant. Staff fled as other rioters entered, smashing windows and spraying graffiti. Damage was estimated at £50,000.

The boy was also seen throwing a traffic cone, bottles and drink cans at police while wearing a balaclava and a wizard-style hat decorated with lightning bolts.

Stipendiary magistrate David Simpson, sentencing the boy, said: "It was not normal May Day headgear. It looks like you were dressed for the part. You took a high-profile part in that incident by your persistent violent behaviour. You have caused many people, police and the public, to fear for their safety, possibly indeed their lives."

At an earlier hearing the teenager admitted charges of violent disorder and criminal damage. He was ordered to pay £26 compensation.

His father, a university professor, kissed him on the back of the head as he was led away.Mr Simpson said the boy could be released after three months for good behaviour.

He went to the march without his parents' knowledge after slipping out of the family home in south London while recovering from an illness.

His solicitors, who said he was in disguise to avoid being spotted by staff and pupils, told the court the boy had only turned violent after being caught up in the "hysteria". Mark Ashford said: "This was not premeditated. He went there because he had political views involving activism. However, when he got there he was caught up in the euphoria and hysteria."

The court heard he had been a promising pupil, who took part in charity activities including concerts and working with handicapped children in special schools.

The boy's father refused to comment as he left the court. He said at the time of his son's arrest: "He is a young man who goes to Eton and was demonstrating his beliefs. He is no thug."

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