Youth sentenced for online post urging people to riot

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A TEENAGER has been banned from using social networking websites after posting an online message urging people to riot.

The 17-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, wrote the Facebook post calling on his 400 friends to riot at the height of the anarchy which swept across the country last week.

The teen was sentenced to a 12-month youth rehabilitation order at West Suffolk Youth Court, in Bury St Edmunds, after admitting the crime.

Presiding magistrate Graham Higgins said the message could have ‘greatly influenced’ anyone who read it.

The court heard that the teen sent the comment from his mobile phone at his West Suffolk home on the morning of August 9.

It read: “I think we should start rioting. It’s about time we stopped the authorities pushing us about and ruining this country. It’s about time we stood up for ourselves for once so come on rioters get some, lol.”

Prosecuting, Lucy Miller said that within minutes fellow users condemned the message and, after apologising, he removed the post.

Explaining his actions to magistrates, the teen, who attended court with his mother, said: “It wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously. It was supposed to be a joke.

“I did try for quite a long time to delete it so no-one would act on it.”

Paul Booty, in mitigation, said: “Within 45 minutes, he realised what he had said was stupid.”

Addressing the teen’s sentence, Mr Booty urged magistrates to ‘tread with caution’ noting there had been ‘a fairly strong knee jerk reaction and lots of misinformation floating around’ relating to riot cases.

When sentencing, Mr Higgins said that although custody had been at the forefront of their minds, he would be given the rehabilitation order, which included 120 hours’ unpaid work and a three-month curfew to remain at home between 7pm and 6am.

He was also ordered not to use any social networking sites for one year and to pay £85 costs.

The mobile phone used to send the message will be handed over and destroyed.