A MAN has been jailed for four years after setting up a Facebook page encouraging a riot in Warrington.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, aged 22, of Richmond Avenue, Latchford, was due to be sentenced at Chester Crown Court in September.

But Recorder of Chester Elgan Edwards jailed him today because of the seriousness of the crime.

He praised the swift actions of Cheshire Police and said he hoped the sentences would act as a deterrent to others.

Keenan, who referred to himself as Pezz on the Facebook page, was sentenced alongside Jordan Blackshaw from Northwich - who was also jailed for four years.

He admitted the offence of inciting public disorder.

Assistant Chief Constable Phil Thompson said: "If we cast our minds back just a few days to last week and recall the way in which technology was used to spread incitement and bring people together to commit acts of criminality it is easy to understand the four year sentences that were handed down in court today.

"In Cheshire, we quickly recognised the impact of the situation on our communities and the way in which social media was being used to promote and incite behaviour that would strike fear in to the hearts of our communities.

"From the offset Cheshire Constabulary adopted a robust policing approach using the information coming into the organisation to move quickly and effectively against any person whose behaviour was likely to encourage criminality.

"Officers took swift action against those people who have been using Facebook and other social media sites to incite disorder.

"The sentences passed down today recognise how technology can be abused to incite criminal activity and sends a strong message to potential troublemakers about the extent to which ordinary people value safety and order in their lives and their communities.

Anyone who seeks to undermine that will face the full force of the law.”

Martin McRobb, crown advocate for CPS Mersey-Cheshire said: “Jordan Blackshaw, 21 and Perry Sutcliffe, 22, independently and from the safety of their homes may have thought that it would be acceptable to set up a Facebook page to incite others to take part in disorders in Cheshire.

"They were wrong and were both sentenced today to four years’ imprisonment at Chester Crown Court, after pleading guilty to intentionally encouraging another to assist the commission of an indictable offence under sections 44 and 46 of the Serious Crime Act 2007.

“They both used Facebook to organise and orchestrate serious disorder at a time when such incidents were taking place in other parts of the country.

"Both defendants, in Northwich and Warrington respectively, sought to gain widespread support in order to replicate similar criminality.

"In investigating these cases, the Cheshire Constabulary acted very swiftly and effectively to close down these websites and to ensure that there was no actual participation in the planned events.

"Nevertheless, these posts caused significant panic and revulsion in local communities as rumours of anticipated violence spread.

“The Crown Prosecution Service worked very closely with the police and Cheshire Crown Court to bring forward preliminary hearing dates that had initially been listed on September 19.

"We were able to serve upon the defence in both cases sufficient case material that led to early guilty pleas and we were able to present the facts in both cases in a fair but robust manner.

“While the judge heard the two defendants were previously of good character, they admitted committing very serious offences that carry a maximum sentence of 10 years. The consequence of their actions could have led to more disorder and this was taken into account.”