Jailed loot handler freed on appeal
Published 19/08/2011 | 15:02
A woman who accepted a pair of looted shorts from her housemate has walked free from prison after her sentence was reduced on appeal.
Mother-of-two Ursula Nevin, 24, was jailed for five months by a district judge last week after she pleaded guilty to handling stolen goods.
The Recorder of Manchester, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, ruled that the decision was "wrong in principle" as he ordered that she should instead perform 75 hours of unpaid work for the community.
Nevin was in bed at the time of the widespread disorder in Manchester city centre where her lodger, Gemma Corbett, helped herself to clothing and footwear from the Vans store and then took them back to the house they shared in Stretford, Greater Manchester.
Nevin wailed in the dock at Manchester Magistrates' Court last Friday as District Judge Khalid Qureshi told her she was supposed to be a role model to her two young sons and criticised her for not speaking up and ordering the stolen haul to be moved out of the house.
Judge Gilbart said he had indicated in previous sentencing remarks on looters that a distinction could be made for people receiving stolen goods who had not been physically present during the disorder throughout Manchester city centre and Salford shopping precinct last Tuesday.
"Ursula Nevin did not go into Manchester city centre," he said. "We regard it as wrong in principle that she was subject to a custodial sentence.
"She must pay some sentence because she knew where the goods had come from. Seventy-five hours of unpaid work appears to be the appropriate figure bearing in mind the guilty plea."
Addressing Nevin, who had no previous convictions, he said: "You must have found yourself, in the circumstances of the last week, trapped in a circle of hell. The way you never get into that situation again is to show the courage to say 'no'. I am sure the courts will not be troubled by you again. Leave now and look after your children."
The defendant cried as the sentence was reduced, as did family members in the public gallery, including her mother. The hearing at Manchester Crown Court was thought to be one of the first appeals to be heard on a sentence given at a magistrates' court involving the disturbances across England last week.