AN ENGLISH Defence League demonstrator who was at the forefront of a group which broke police lines has been jailed for 16 months.
Mark Doel became involved in violence at the demonstration in Hanley city centre on Saturday, January 23
Prosecutor Paul Spratt told Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court yesterday that at about 1.30pm, items were being thrown at police including glass bottles, cans and a smoke cannister.
“About 100 people had broken free from the group being cordoned to come round the rear of the police lines,” said Mr Spratt.
“A police dog handler became aware of a group of men at the rear of the police unit.
“He then saw the defendant run to the front and shout abuse at the officers.
“He (Doel) kicked out to the back of a slightly built female officer and punched her to her helmet, causing her to fall to the ground.
“She was later assaulted by another individual and was kicked and stamped on.”
The court heard the police dog took hold of the defendant. He kicked out and struck the dog and others tried to drag him back into the crowd.
But the dog maintained its grip and Doel was arrested.
In his police interview, he admitted being present at the demonstration but denied violent disorder and assaulting a police officer.
He pleaded guilty to affray at an earlier hearing.
The pleas were accepted by the Crown Prosecution Service.
Peter McCartney, for the defence, said Doel was not a member of the EDL and visited the Potteries on the invitation of a friend.
He said the 43-year-old, who has numerous convictions for violence and disorder but none for 15 years, regrets getting into trouble.
“It was the first demonstration he has attended,” said Mr McCartney. “He came along. He did not intend to involve himself in violence, but the situation carried him along and he did get involved.”
Judge Granville Styler said an immediate custodial sentence had to be passed.
“This was a very serious matter,” the judge told Doel, a father-of-one from Primrose Hill, Batley, West Yorkshire.
“You travelled to Stoke-on-Trent and, I take the view, you travelled in order to take part in a demonstration. You consumed five pints of lager.
“You knew the police were having difficulties restraining an increasingly violent crowd.
“You were at the forefront of a breakaway group. You attacked a policewoman from behind and knocked her to the ground. It was an extremely dangerous situation. And it encouraged others to attack this officer while on the ground, and she was stamped on.
“It is clear to me you have not put your violent past behind you.”
Judge Styler said he would like the Chief Constable to commend the dog handler for his bravery.