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Rioter’s Bitter Regret

August 16, 2012, 1:24 pm

ROSS stole clothes from a department store in Manchester during the riots which gripped the city, an “opportunist” action that he bitterly regrets.

The 23-year-old was sentenced to jail for 20 months, is currently out on tag having served eight-and-a-half months, and is being supervised by Greater Manchester Probation Trust.

On the day of the riots he and a friend had caught a lift into the city centre after he had finished work because public transport had ground to a halt.

Oblivious to the riots until he reached the city centre, Ross discovered that no buses were running and that making the five miles back to his home would be tricky.

He said: “I saw an opportunity to steal, but that turned out to be one of the biggest mistakes of my life.

“Everyone was getting involved, I was stuck, I thought I might as well get involved.

“I wouldnt have even considered shoplifting in normal circumstances – the thought would never have crossed my mind – but I was sheep-ish, I followed the crowd.”

Ross served his time at HMP Manchester, before being released on May 23rd. He is supervised by probation officer Barry Saunders at New Choices, a centre run by GMPT and the Jobcentre in Partington.

Ross said: “Prison was terrible. I didnt like most of the people I was around, I missed my family, but on the plus side it gave me plenty of time to think about what Id done and to evaluate things so that I could take steps to change my life.

“It was in jail that the full scale of what Id been involved in sunk in. The country was in uproar. At the time Id just seen it as a chance to take some stuff.

“I live with my grandma. She is a good and proper person, she doesnt agree with anything like what I did, and I knew that Id disappointed her.”

Just before the riots Ross, who was drunk when he committed the offences, had had his house repossessed after he had failed to make mortgage payments following splitting with his girlfriend.

He said: “I dont know whether or not those things had contributed to what I did. But I do know now that if I saw riot, Id head the other way. Im never going back before the courts.

“Probation is supporting me. Ive always been in work, now New Choices is helping me enrol on courses and Im studying plastering and will qualify in six months.

“Mr Saunders and Jean Ham, from the Jobcentre, have an excellent partnership going and Im benefitting from their help.”

Ross has already completed a four week Community Building Course and has been carrying out apprenticeships at the Manchester Skills Centre.

Barry said: “Ross is very motivated to turn things around and to get employment. He takes criticism constructively and hes doing well on the plastering course.

“My offence focussed work with him has centred on making sure he understands the bigger picture of what occurred in Manchester and Salford, and across the country, during the riots – and ensuring he understands the consequences of what he did.

“He has now served his punishment and I strongly believe he is making the necessary steps to once again become a fully functioning member of society.”

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