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Appeal judges criticise Judge Gilbart’s riot sentencing

28 September 2011

The Court of Appeal has criticised the approach to the sentencing of rioters taken by Judge Andrew Gilbart, the Recorder of Manchester.

In the aftermath of last month's riots Judge Gilbart QC at Manchester Crown Court said the sentencing guidelines could “could properly be departed from” when dealing with rioters because the situation “took them completely outside the usual context of criminality” (see solicitorsjournal.com 17 August 2011).

Lord Judge, Lord Justice Leveson and Lord Justice Thomas yesterday considered appeals against sentences by ten people involved in last month’s riots.

Their judgment will not be handed down until next week, but during the hearing all three judges were reported as criticising the Recorder of Manchester.

Lord Justice Thomas accused Judge Gilbart of creating “what is in reality guidelines” through his strongly-worded judgment.

Leveson LJ said that by suggesting ranges for riot-related offences, Judge Gilbart had done “something which not even this court does”.

Lord Judge is said by The Telegraph to have promised to uphold abnormally tough sentences because of the “ghastliness of what was going on”.

He said this summer’s riots were more serious than the Bradford riots in 2001 and the fact they were nationwide should be taken into account.

However, he warned that if other judges took the same approach as Judge Gilbart it would be a “recipe for chaos”.

Among the sentences considered were the four-year terms imposed on Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, two men of previous good character, at Chester Crown Court.

The young men had attempted to incite riots in Warrington and Northwich through posts on Facebook. In the event, nothing happened in either location.

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Procedures Costs