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Challenge to riots prison sentence

One of the first men to appear at crown court after the August riots 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 generally.

David Beswick, 31, of Anson Street, Eccles, was jailed for 18 months for handling stolen goods during rioting in several English cities.

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.

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.

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."

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