Soldier Jailed For Buying Guitar Stolen In Manchester Riots

Liam Bretherton, who's 20 and from Leigh, will serve 8 months in jail.

The Army career of a serving soldier is in ruins after he was locked up for eight months today for buying a stolen guitar during the August disturbances and then trying to sell it on.

Liam Bretherton, 20, was in Manchester city centre at the height of the widespread civil disorder when he paid #20 to a unknown man in the street for the instrument, which had just been looted from a nearby music store.

Two days later Bretherton, a member of the 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, went into a music shop in his home town of Leigh, Greater Manchester, and offered them the rare left-handed Les Gibson guitar, valued at nearly #2,000.

The shop owner became suspicious, locked the doors and called the police when he confirmed with the other store that it had been taken during a large-scale raid on its premises on August 9.

Manchester Crown Court heard Bretherton then appeared ``agitated'' and ``the colour drained from his face'' as he said: ``I'm in the Army.''

He was arrested and went on to plead guilty to handling stolen goods.

His counsel pleaded for a suspended sentence today as any jail term would lead to him being kicked out of the Army, but Judge Anthony Gee QC said he would be ``failing in my duty'' to impose anything but immediate custody.

The judge said: ``You have to face the consequences of what you did and what you did amounts to a very serious offence

``I regard yours as an extremely sad case. It is sad because you are a young man who all that know you have spoken highly of, but you well know that courts dealing with cases like this have a duty and obligation to punish those involved and deter others who may be minded to act like you did in the future.''

Bretherton, of Larch Road, was told he would serve half his sentence in a young offenders institution before being released.