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16 August 2011
Two men from Cheshire have been jailed for four years each for using Facebook to incite disorder during riots in England last week.
Jordan Blackshaw, 21, of Vale Road, Marston and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Richmond Avenue, Warrington, were jailed at Chester Crown Court.
The Recorder of Chester, Judge Elgan Edwards praised the swift actions of Cheshire Police.
He said he hoped the sentences would act as a deterrent to others.
Both men pleaded guilty under sections 44 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act to intentionally encouraging another to assist the commission of an indictable offence.
The Crown Prosecution Service said Blackshaw had created a Facebook event called "Smash d[o]wn in Northwich Town", intended for the receipt of the "Mob Hill Massive Northwich Lootin'".
The page went on to specify a meeting time and place of 9 August, between 13:00 and 16:00 BST, "behind maccies" - thought to be the McDonald's restaurant in Northwich town centre.
Blackshaw also added the first comment on his page, writing: "We'll need to get this kickin off all over."
Police were alerted to Sutcliffe-Keenan's page when members of the public raised concerns on 9 August.
The page invited people to "riot" on 10 August between 19:00 BST and 22:00 BST.
Martin McRobb, from the Merseyside and Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: "They both used Facebook to organise and orchestrate serious disorder at a time when such incidents were taking place in other parts of the country.
"Both defendants, in Northwich and Warrington respectively, sought to gain widespread support in order to replicate similar criminality."
He added: "While the judge heard the two defendants were previously of good character, they admitted committing very serious offences that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years."
Assistant Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, Phil Thompson, said: "From the offset Cheshire Constabulary adopted a robust policing approach using the information coming into the organisation to move quickly and effectively against any person whose behaviour was likely to encourage criminality.
"Officers took swift action against those people who have been using Facebook and other social media sites to incite disorder.
"The sentences passed down today recognise how technology can be abused to incite criminal activity and sends a strong message to potential troublemakers about the extent to which ordinary people value safety and order in their lives and their communities.
"Anyone who seeks to undermine that will face the full force of the law."