Thugs from the counter-demonstration began throwing glass bottles, metal cans and smoke grenades in chaotic scenes at Grey’s Monument
Police officers, horses, dogs and members of the public were injured during a riot caused by thugs demonstrating against a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest.
Member of a counter-demonstration chose to attend Grey’s Monument in Newcastle city centre at the same time as the planned show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and some came prepared for a violent showdown. Ugly and frightening scenes on a Saturday afternoon were captured on CCTV as a barrage of bottles, cans and smoke grenades were thrown while around 1,000 people gathered and 180 police officers were verbally abused as they tried to keep the two groups apart.
Several Northumbria Police officers, animals and members of the public were hurt in the appalling outbreak of violence. Now three of those responsible – children’s football coach Christopher Bone, then-council worker Craig Hornsby and ex joiner Neil Drummond – have been sentenced for violent disorder at Newcastle Crown Court. Around 30 people have pleaded guilty and are to be sentenced in the coming days.
The court heard there was a peaceful demonstration planned in support of Black Lives Matter on Saturday June 13, 2020. However police were told a group called the North East Front Line Patriots, along with Hell’s Angels, veterans and some with a history of football violence, were to hold a counter demonstration at the same time in the same place.
The counter-protesters claimed to be there to protect Grey’s Monument from anarchists but a judge said it was the counter-protesters who were responsible for the bulk of the violence, which they started and continued. Despite repeated warnings by police to disperse, a hardcore of 50 to 60 remained for hours.
Jolyon Perks, prosecuting, said: “From 2pm, some protesters became hostile and instigated public disorder. Objects were thrown at police and protesters, including glass bottles, metal cans and smoke grenades.
“Several police officers, service animals, including a number of dogs and horses and members of the public were injured.” One PC at the back of the counter protest was hit in the base of the neck by a full, unopened can of lager. He stumbled forward and was then hit on the back of his helmet with a glass bottle.
An inspector was hit in the chest by a can of lager and a bottle smashed at his feet. He also saw someone grabbing a police officer’s baton and witnessed a horse bleeding from its mouth and another horse with a cut to its leg.
Another PC was struck with a bottle to his hand and suffered a dislocated finger and a colleague suffered an injured foot when a missile was thrown towards a horse and it jumped back and stood on his foot.
The court heard police horse Peroni was hit in the face with a full can of beer and also suffered a cut leg while police dog, Ivan, suffered a cut to his eyebrow.
One PC was hit in the face with a can of lager and another was punched in the face by a counter-protester. Another was bitten by a police dog after someone antagonised it.
The court heard a 17-year-old girl in the Black Live Matter group decided to leave the demonstration and as she did so was struck in the back of the head by a beer bottle. She needed hospital treatment for a wound to her head.
Bone was present in the area from that morning and footage shows him marshalling and beckoning others to move towards the police line and he was seen aggressively gesturing towards the other group.
He was seen to throw a can which appeared to strike a senior police officer. He was later seen picking up a plastic bag and throwing it and it’s contents at the police line, striking an officer. He also obstructed efforts by the police to move the group back and continued pointing and shouting and pushing.
The court heard Bone’s previous convictions include rioting in Portugal during the Euros in 2008 and failing to comply with a Football Banning Order.
Hornsby threw a bottle towards the police line. He then threw a further three bottles at the police and Black Lives Matter group. Mr Perks said: “A PC was struck in the body and smashed glass caused injury to police horses and dogs and a member of the public was struck.”
Drummond was with a group of protesters chanting and shouting towards the Black Lives Matter group and took part in a racist song. He was also seen ranting at police about not allowing anarchy in the city and said he wanted to “protect our statues against anarchy and liberalism”.
Sentencing them, Judge Edward Bindloss said he gave little or no weight to the argument they had been there to protect the monument from anarchists and said: “The bulk of the violence and the bulk of the necessity for the police being there was to hold back the counter-protesters.”
Bone, 46, of Affleck Street Gateshead, Hornsby, 52, of Wordsworth Close, Hexham, and Drummond, 65, of Audley Road, South Gosforth, Newcastle, all admitted violent disorder. Bone was jailed for 29 months, Hornsby got 38 months and Drummond got two years suspended for two years with a one month curfew. His sentence was only suspended on medical grounds as he has cancer, including a brain tumour.
Elizabeth Muir, for Bone, said references “speak of a different man to the man one can see behaving atrociously on the CCTV”.
She added: “He is a qualified football coach and has been very much involved in children’s football coaching. That’s why this behaviour is so utterly appalling.” Miss Muir said Bone’s son, who has suffered serious health issues, and partner would suffer by him being jailed.
Andrew Turton, for Hornsby, said he is remorseful and didn’t attend intending to cause trouble and that his main concern was to protect the Grey’s Monument statue. He said throwing missiles was a reaction to items being thrown the other way.
He added that he was brought up with a military background and denies being aligned to any groups or being a member of any hate crime groups or holding racist values. He was a tenancy support officer at Derwentside Council but was sacked as a result of the offence.
Tom Bennett, for Drummond, said he claimed he had gone to town to go shopping, despite it being the height of lockdown and became concerned damage would be done as it had been to statues in other areas.
But Judge Bindloss remarked: “All of the people I have to sentence are counter-protesters. People are saying they are here to defend people from anarchists – the only people committing violence were Mr Drummond and his ilk.”
Mr Bennett added that Drummond is having treatment for cancer and is now reliant on others.