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7 September 2011, 17:51
One of the first men to appear at crown court after the August riots in Manchester is to challenge his prison sentence in a case which could help determine just how tough the Court of Appeal is going to be on looters and rioters.
31 year old David Beswick of Anson Street, Eccles, was jailed for 18 months for handling stolen goods during rioting in Manchester.
He was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court by Judge Andrew Gilbart QC.
Judge Gilbart was the first crown court judge to sentence offenders, and he declared that their crimes deserved longer sentences.
The judge heard that coach driver Beswick, a father of one, had been watching the rioting in Salford for nearly five hours, and then took £20 for putting a looted 37in television in the boot of his car.
Dealing with three looting cases on August 16, the judge said:
'I have no doubt at all that the principal purpose is that the courts should show that outbursts of criminal behaviour like this will be and must be met with sentences longer than they would be if the offences had been committed in isolation.
'For those reasons I consider that the sentencing guidelines for specific offences are of much less weight in the context of the current case, and can properly be departed from.'
It is understood that, in non-riot circumstances, Beswick could have expected to receive a mid-range community sentence.
The tough approach taken by Judge Gilbart seems to have been copied by other courts dealing with the rioters.
Following the first cases, MPs and justice campaigners expressed the view that some of the sentences being handed down were too harsh.
The Beswick case is the second riots-related challenge to be lodged at the Court of Appeal by a defendant sentenced at a crown court. Many more are expected to follow.
The first lodged involves 20 year old Jordan Blackshaw of Northwich, Cheshire, who was given a four-year jail term after a court heard he tried to incite a riot on Facebook.
Blackshaw was jailed at Chester Crown Court last month
A spokeswoman for the Judicial Office said: 'Two applications for leave to appeal have been received.
'The Court is now processing these for hearing as and when appropriate, if possible with others so that some guidance can be given.'