Hackney rioter jailed for five years

A 36-year-old Homerton man, who embarked on a campaign of destruction and looting in the Hackney riots, has been jailed for five years.

Junior Saunders was handed the longest prison term anyone in Hackney has received for their part in the riots – and one of the longest nationally - after he pleaded guilty to six counts, including violent disorder, criminal damage, and burglary.

His acts included smashing police car windows and looting from an opticians that was robbed of 20,000 glasses during the disturbances on August 8.

Saunders, who wore distinctive sunglasses and beach shorts as he cycled around the borough, was caught on CCTV numerous times.

He began the evening by using a bike lock to smash up police cars in Mare Street, Hackney Central, and he went on to throw stepladders and other items at officers.

Later, he broke into the back of an articulated lorry, where he spent 15 minutes passing planks of wood from the truck to other suspects, who used them to smash windows of buses that were full of passengers.

Saunders, of Mead Place, then led an attack on Eyecare London, where 20,000 pairs of glasses were stolen.

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He continued his campaign of destruction at Tesco in Morning Lane, where footage showed him attacking the store with a shovel and handing out property to others, before he moved to Clarence Road, Lower Clapton, which saw some of the worst scenes of violent disorder.

He continued to throw missiles at police until the early hours of the morning.

Saunders initially denied all the offences. But when faced with the evidence, including testimony from facial recognition experts and CCTV footage, he pleaded guilty to two counts of violent disorder relating to his actions in Mare Street and Clarence Road, two counts of criminal damage to police cars, and two counts of burglary for his thefts at Eye London and Tesco.

He was sentenced to two and half years for each of the violent disorder charges, which will run consecutively, at Wood Green Crown Court today (Friday).

Although he also received two months for each of the criminal damage charges, and a year for each of the burglaries, those sentences will run concurrently.

The borough commander of Hackney Police, Steve Bending, said: “The conviction of Junior Saunders is a strong example of the painstaking work that is still going on to bring to justice to those responsible for the disorder in Hackney.

“I am pleased that in sentencing him to five years imprisonment, the court has recognised the role he played at numerous scenes of the disorder and his appalling behaviour throughout.”