4th November 2011

Facebook ‘rioter’ jailed

A man who encouraged rioting in Manchester using Facebook has been sentenced to three years in prison

A Facebook user who posted messages on the social networking site urging rioting in Manchester has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Philip Scott Burgess, 22, posted messages on his profile page following unrest in London, Liverpool and Birmingham calling on people to riot.

“We need to start riot’n” posted Burgess on 9th August, under Facebook name ‘Philip Rio Burgess’, “We need to put Manchester on the map”.

Shortly after he wrote his messages rioting began near his home in Salford, before spreading to Manchester city centre.

PC John Hepke from the Bolton West Neighbourhood Policing Team said: “The widespread disorder in Manchester city centre and Salford drew disbelief and shock.

“Everyone witnessed the disgraceful scenes of violence, looting and arson and it is clear that social networking sites were used to incite certain elements of this disorder.”

Burgess was arrested at his home on 16th August as a huge police response to the riots worked round the clock to identify any offenders involved in the looting and rioting.

PC Hepke said, “At that time, Greater Manchester Police vowed that we would identify anyone involved in using social networking sites to stir up hatred, and once Burgess had been exposed, our team in Bolton was brought in to investigate.

“The comments he posted on Facebook were clearly designed to incite people to commit disorder in Manchester just hours before those awful scenes.

“Such postings could only have caused distress and upset to those his abuse was targeted against.

The sentencing comes after two ‘Facebook rioters’ James Blackshaw, 20, and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, from Cheshire had their appeals against their four-year prison terms rejected.

Police say they continue to pursue anyone involved in the August rioting.

Assistant Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said, “Our officers are continuing to identify those involved in the disorder, whether it be a looter, someone who set fire to property, an offender involved in violent disorder or those who helped organise the disorder via social networking and we will pursue those offenders until they are brought to justice.”

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