After the UK riots, the press went to town on the fact that some very unlikely people ended up being arrested for theft and whatnot. People with jobs; university students; teachers.
However, from looking at these two court reports, it appears that most of the rioters and looters were the usual suspects - career criminals, including some who had been released from prison just before the rioting started. If you want to know why a lot of them are being locked up for stealing trivial items, read the remarks in the reports below - particularly the second one. Thanks to the always excellent Bystander for the links.
Sentencing Remarks - HH Judge Robert Atherton at Manchester Crown Court
Sentencing Remarks - His Honour Judge Andrew Gilbart QC - The Honorary Recorder of Manchester
I've grabbed the following remarks from the above reports. They really are a mixed bag of looters.
Dane Wesley Twemlow
You pleaded guilty to an offence of theft of a 32” television. You were arrested as you were carrying it from the direction of the Salford Shopping Precinct. It follows that the property was recovered. You say you found it in a trolley. There is no evidence to contradict that. It is said you would have had difficulty in taking that the 4 or 5 miles home. That did not deter you from trying. But those facts must be seen in the context of your activities leading up to taking that television. You had been on your way home when your attention was drawn to the Shopping Precinct. You stopped and watched for a period which you estimate at 2 hours. You saw shops broken into goods stolen and you told the police in interview that you saw “loads of TVs coming out of the precinct so that you couldn’t believe how many.” When you saw one, you decided to take it. You said you needed it.
You are an alcoholic. That is established by you record which shows that it is a chronic condition. You drink too much, too regularly and when in drink become threatening and abusive. Many attempts have been made to address that alcoholism but none seems to have had much success. It is a notable feature of your record that frequently you have left court only to return very soon after having committed another offence. Indeed on the evening before your arrest you had been released from prison and seem to have got no further than Piccadilly on your way to stay at someone’s house.
You are 21 years old and I shall treat you as being of good character. You came into the city despite the advice of friends and your mother. That was stupid and you should have known better. You are a student at University and have thrown away a lot. It is a heavy price to pay for such behaviour. I hope that you will seek to continue a promising career after your release from prison.
Lloyd Brian Coudjoe
You have previously appeared before courts on two occasions. One was clearly serious and the fact that you breached the order three times gives some indication of your attitude and immaturity.
David Christopher Swarbrick
You are almost 26 years of age. You have a lengthy record of offences of dishonesty which I accept may be due to your addiction. There have been many attempts to help you address the problem and indeed as recently as 15th June 2011 you were made the subject of a suspended sentence of 4 months and in respect of which you are now in breach.
You sustained an injury when the police officer seeking to detain you struck you with his baton. I note that you do not make any complaint about that action and are realistic in not doing so.
You are 38 years old. You were certainly not a youth and in fact a man of considerable maturity and worldly experience. After a difficult early life you have made a highly respectable life for yourself and your family. You should have been at the forefront of leading people away from such activities but you became involved in. Now you have thrown so much away. You made a comment when arrested with which I have already indicated my view, that you summed yourself up well by it.
You have a bad recent record. As recently as 25th February 2011 you were convicted of shoplifting, and on 4th May 2011 you received a 10 week sentence for your failures to comply with community orders imposed for offences of battery committed in August 2010. You were released from prison as recently as 12th July 2011. You blame your position on the end of your relationship. Many endure that happening without resorting to crime.
You are 31 years old and in work.You do not have a bad criminal record, and no previous offences for dishonesty.
You are only 18, but have amassed a very considerable record.
LINDA MARY BOYD
You have a long record for petty offending typical of your situation as someone who was addicted to heroin and alcohol. You were in the City centre doing what you usually do there-that is go drinking with friends in the street.