Last July the future looked bright for Perry Atherton - 20 years old, he had a good job and had just moved into his own flat in Nottingham's desirable Mapperley neighbourhood.
Today all that is gone, as he enters the eighth month of a three-year sentence for violent disorder.
He is one of many victims of the political crackdown that followed the youth uprisings in urban centres across England last August.
Yet he maintains that he was not even involved in those uprisings. Atherton had the misfortune to be, as his mother says, "in the wrong place at the wrong time."
On the evening of Tuesday August 9 2011, Atherton says he had gone out to buy food from the local shops in Mansfield Road, Nottingham.
When he arrived, he noticed a number of police in the area and a helicopter overhead.
The disturbances following the execution of Mark Duggan had spread to Nottingham the day before, and a group of youths had just climbed onto the roof of the nearby school.
A number of people had come out into the street in the same area and Atherton says he was watching the helicopter and wondering what was going on.
He decided to go round the corner to investigate. A small group of youths were milling around, and smoke was rising from a nearby bin that had been set on fire.
The next minute, three police vans screeched round the corner and around 20 police officers charged out of them.
Everyone started to run - including Atherton - but the police caught him and knocked him to the ground, whereupon, he says, they racially abused him and arrested him.
The police tell the story rather differently. The jury in Nottingham Crown Court were told that there was a riot in Mansfield Road that evening, and that Atherton had set a bin on fire and then thrown a petrol bomb at the police.
Despite Atherton being assigned a different defence solicitor for each hearing, each of whom knew few of the details of the case, the initial court hearings seemed to be going in Atherton's favour.
The judge at Nottingham magistrates' court even ordered Atherton's tag to be removed as the absence of any convincing evidence against him became increasingly clear. At one point, the judge Tim Devas seemed to lose all patience and demanded to know whether the prosecution actually had anything at all to connect the accused to the events of that night.
The prosecution said that more time was needed to gather evidence, and that they were awaiting results of various tests.
When the results of the tests came back, however, they too appeared to put Atherton in the clear.
His clothes had been checked for traces of petrol or debris, but none were found.
Phone records had been obtained in an attempt to prove Atherton's association with known gang members and incitement, but this likewise revealed nothing.
CCTV footage showed Atherton doing nothing other than being chased by police down Mansfield Road.
The only real evidence against Atherton consisted of statements made by PC Cattell and PC Walker, the two arresting officers, that Atherton had thrown a petrol bomb at the police and set fire to a bin.
While they themselves had not actually been there at the time, they claimed that two other officers, Leonardi and Craner, had witnessed it all and identified Atherton as the perpetrator.
They informed the detaining sergeant of all this just before the 24-hour limit for detention without charge was reached and Atherton would have had to have been released.
Up until that point, the detaining sergeant had noted, twice, in his log of Atherton's arrest that there was "no evidence to charge."
The strange thing is that if Leonardi and Craner had witnessed this criminal behaviour, neither of them chose to mention it in their original statements at the time.
On the contrary, they claimed that while missiles had been thrown at the police, they could not identify either what was thrown or who threw them.
This fact was, apparently, never revealed to the court, which only heard PC Cattell's version of what Leonardi and Craner had said.
Other evidence was even more shaky. According to the prosecution, a JD Sports bag containing rocks, rubble and traces of petrol was found next to Ricky Hudson, one of Atherton's two co-defendants.
But the same bag was also recorded by police as having been found several streets away next to the third co-defendant.
This discrepancy did not come out in court either, and was only discovered afterwards by Atherton's mother Kathleen as she scoured the arrest sheets. The multiple hurried defence lawyers had clearly not had the time to look at them.
There were other discrepancies in the prosecution case. The incident for which Atherton was supposedly arrested - the disturbances where police were attacked - occurred, according to the official police log from the day, at 8.50pm - five minutes after the time of Atherton's arrest recorded on the arrest sheets.
So a handful of police statements, many of which contradicted earlier statements made by other police at the scene, and a bag that was in two places at the same time, constituted the entirety of the substantive evidence against Atherton.
Other than that, the prosecution case seems to have amounted to insinuations about "gang membership" along with comments about his clothing and his bandana which apparently demonstrated that he was "dressed for battle" ("If that's dressed for battle, I'm dressed for battle every day of my life," Atherton commented).
The fact that there were always three people on trial together - one of whom had a number of prior convictions and actually "appeared" in court via satellite link from his holding cell - also added to the overall impression of criminality.
The hostile media coverage of the riots combined with venomous attacks from government, undoubtedly led to an atmosphere of immense pressure to convict and to punish.
The Prime Minister himself called for the imprisonment of every "rioter" - however defined - and the government issued instructions to magistrates' clerks to disregard sentencing guidelines so that they could do exactly that.
The result is that those young people imprisoned for their part in last year's uprisings - one in three of whom had no prior convictions - have received sentences on average four times the usual amount for the crime committed, as a direct result of political interference.
In a country whose sense of superiority is based in large part on its supposed respect for the "rule of law" and judicial independence it took surprisingly little for the whole concept to be tossed out of the window.
What Atherton's case shows, however, is that it was not only those "caught up" in the riots who became the victims of this process.
Even those who had nothing to do with it have had their lives devastated, in order to "set an example" to others. This is politically motivated collective punishment - the very opposite of the "rule of law" Britain claims to hold so dear.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.