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Islington man first in London to be sentenced for inciting riots

PUBLISHED: 16:00 08 May 2012 | UPDATED: 19:15 08 May 2012

Terry Balson set up a Facebook page inciting others to riot

Terry Balson set up a Facebook page inciting others to riot

Archant

A “thrill-seeker” who used a Facebook page to encourage disorder during the riots has been locked up for two years in the first case of its kind in London.

Terry Balson, 20, of Halton Road, Islington, who was sentenced today, set up an open page on the popular social networking site called “For the riot (f**k the feds)”, which could have inspired violence in Wood Green and Barnet.

He was named and shamed by social media users, who reported him to police.

Balson created the page from a computer at a library in Wood Green on August 9 last year, when the capital was in the grip of widespread violence and looting.

Comments he posted on the site included “Barnet High Road is the spot apparently, who is on it?” and “Come to Wood Green at 6pm”.

Jobless Balson - the first person to be sentenced for inciting people to riot in London - was arrested after members of the public reported the site to police, Wood Green Crown Court heard.

His event page attracted 20 members, and the same night a police station in Colindale, Barnet, and a mobile police office in a Barnet housing estate were attacked, alongside stores at Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

Balson admitted incitement to riot at an earlier hearing, and sentencing him to two years in a young offenders’ institution, Judge Simon Carr said: “Your involvement was very specific on what would have been the third day of the riots, when everyone would have been aware of the destruction and loss of life that was occurring.”

He added: “You did this, it would seem, because you see thrill-seeking as part of your reason for being.

“You take risks for the sake of taking risks and although I accept you are a man of good character, you have in the past, as part of your desire for excitement, walked on the edge of criminality.”

Judge Carr said two people who had set up a similar account but closed it down, and pleaded guilty, had been jailed for four years.

But he said he had “nothing but sympathy” for Balson, who had a difficult childhood after being diagnosed with ADHD, and four years would be “out of kilter with what is necessary and appropriate”.

Det Con Chris Ladmore, investigating officer from the Operation Withern north team, said: “In interview Balson admitted the offence and stated that rioting was OK if it wasn’t on your own doorstep.”

He said Balson “caused widespread fear and panic to the residents of Barnet whom had already witnessed the events in Tottenham”.


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