First-class thug - Final rioter convicted
A STUDENT in line for a first-class honours degree has been jailed for his role in Bristol's Tesco riots.
Patrick Besiris was captured on CCTV and amateur video footage, repeatedly throwing rocks at a line of police officers with riot shields.
He is the final defendant to be convicted for taking part in the three incidents of disorder which hit Bristol last year – two centred on a controversial Tesco store in Cheltenham Road in April and a third that erupted as riots in London spread across the country in August.
Police vowed to track down the hundreds of people involved. At the time, Assistant Chief Constable Anthony Bangham warned those who took part: "My message to all of you is simple. If you were involved in this disorder in any way then when we identify you, we will arrest you."
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In the end 137 people were arrested and of those, 72 were cautioned or convicted, with 17 sent to jail.
Police have declined to reveal how many offenders were arrested at the time and how many were tracked down later using CCTV.
The Avon and Somerset force has also been unable to reveal a total figure for the cost of policing the riots, but Chief Constable Colin Port said: "The costs of processing these people through the criminal justice system, from arrest and charge to sentencing, and imprisonment for some, will cost the public purse hundreds of thousands of pounds.
"The swift passage through the courts and the sentences handed down are testament to the work of the police and others in the criminal justice system, but also to the people of Bristol and the readers of the Post."
Bristol Crown Court heard 21-year-old Besiris, of Filton Road, had overcome adversity to get a place at the University of the West of England, where he was in his final year of a BA in politics, played rugby and was chairman of his student campus.
But his promising future was left in tatters after he was jailed for 14 months yesterday, having pleaded guilty to violent disorder.
Judge Michael Roach, who has had jurisdiction of all cases connected to last year's disorder, told him: "Your behaviour on the night in question was disgraceful.
"It is obvious that that sort of behaviour must attract a custodial sentence."
Richard Posner, prosecuting, said Besiris was convicted for his role in the second night of trouble near the Tesco store in the early hours of April 29, the day of the Royal Wedding.
Plans for a protest "party" a week on from the first night of trouble had drawn a 200-strong crowd to a squat known as Telepathic Heights, opposite the Tesco store.
Besiris was shown on the corner of Stokes Croft and Nine Tree Hill, wearing a mask and throwing missiles. He had written that he had been "Looking forward to Stokes Croft round two," on his account on social networking site Twitter.
Srikantharajah Nereshraaj, defending, said Besiris wished to apologise to the police and community.
He said: "It was inexcusable and unjustifiable. He saw the CCTV and was ashamed and appalled."
Mr Nereshraaj said his client had overcome ADHD and an inherited bi-polar disorder to obtain good qualifications and was on track for a First Class BA Honours in politics.
He had been voted chairman of St Matthias campus, played rugby for his university and local club and had re-instated a social group which raised money for good causes including bereaved students.
Afterwards John Rushforth, UWE Bristol deputy vice-chancellor, said: "The University, whilst upholding students' rights to peaceful protest, does not in any way condone violence. There is a university disciplinary process, which can result in a range of outcomes including withholding of degree. We never prejudge the outcome of that process until the university has considered fully the facts of the case."
And there is more here from DCI Will White, the detective in charge of investigating last year's riots.