A FORMER soldier who sent messages at the height of last summer’s riots has been described by a judge as crass and stupid. Tommy Tucker, 22, of Mareth Road, Colchester, used his BlackBerry phone to tell friends a shop in the town was on fire and ask: “Anyone want to start a riot?”

He sent the messages on August 7 and August 10 during looting in London, Birmingham and other UK cities. There was not any trouble in Colchester.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard people who received the message told police they knew Tucker and did not believe it.

Tucker admitted one charge of sending a message capable of encouraging or assisting the commission of a riot.

Judge David Turner QC said the maximum sentence for this offence was six months but Tucker had already served the equivalent of an eight-month sentence on remand and on a tag.

Tucker was jailed for two months, which means he has served his sentence.

The judge told him last summer’s riots had been deeply disturbing and troubling.

He said: “To do something like this was utter, crass stupidity.

“It suggests a lack of understanding that borders on the pathological.”

The court heard of one message Tucker had sent, which said: “Anyone want to start a riot in Colchester, 100 per cent serious?”

Peter Clark, prosecuting, told the court the charge had been considered and it was decided not to proceed with it.

Mr Clark said: “Statements from Tucker’s contacts who received this message said they did not take it at all seriously.”

He said the message had also not been widely distributed and a decision was taken to offer no evidence.

Tucker admitted the charge in relation to the second text, which claimed the Apple shop in Colchester was on fire.

l Tucker sent the messages as rioting and looting erupted in London, sparking copycat violence in other towns and cities.

Other people who sent messages were jailed.

Jordan Blackshaw, 21, from Marston, Cheshire, was jailed for four years at Chester Crown Court in August for creating a Facebook event called “Smash down in Northwich Town”.

He admitted encouraging others to assist the commission of an indictable offence. There were no outbreaks of disorder in the town, but the judge said the sentence would act as a deterrent.