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A 25 YEAR-old Lower Gornal man who launched a “flying kick” at a police officer during an English Defence League march has been jailed for one year.

Judge Michael Challinor told Thomas Blackwell, of Bird Street: “You attended this demonstration with the intention of causing disorder and violence.”

“This is clear from the fact you were wearing protective clothing in the form of a stab vest. In the course of this disorder you tackled a police officer by using a flying kick to his protective shield.”

The judge said he had taken into consideration Blackwell would lose his employment if he was sent to prison but he added: “This type of violent behaviour so often prevents law abiding citizens from protesting peacefully.”

Blackwell admitted affray and the judge said it was clear from DVD evidence he had been at the “forefront” of the EDL march on July 17 last year.

Stephen Thomas prosecuting said Blackwell had been near the front of a group of EDL protesters who had thrown bottles and other missiles at police officers.

He told Wolverhampton Crown Court that protesters also tried to provoke the officers by chanting the names of people who had killed policemen including Raoul Moat who had hit the headlines just weeks earlier.

Blackwell who represented himself in court said he felt the description “flying kick” totally exaggerated his actions while adding: “I am ashamed of what I did. I have shamed myself and my family.”

Two other men – Scott Bailey, 23, of Central Drive, Gornal and 20 year-old Anthony Grant of George Road, Netherton – will be sentenced on May 31 after also admitting a charge of affray in connection with the EDL march.

Dudley News

A man accused of launching a “flying kick” at a police officer while at the forefront of trouble at an EDL march in the Black Country was today behind bars.

A man accused of launching a “flying kick” at a police officer while at the forefront of trouble at an EDL march in the Black Country was today behind bars.

Thomas Blackwell admitted a charge of affray during the EDL protest in Dudley on July 17 last year and was sentenced to one year in prison.

A DVD shown at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday showed Blackwell, aged 25, of Bird Street, Lower Gornal, wearing a white stab vest in the front few rows of protesters at the march as they confronted police.

Judge Michael Challinor told him the DVD showed he had “clearly” been at the forefront of the violence which erupted in Stafford Street on the day.

“You attended this demonstration with the intention of causing disorder and violence,” he said.

“This is clear from the fact you were wearing protective clothing in the form of a stab vest.

“In the course of this disorder you tackled a police officer by using a flying kick to his protective shield.”

Judge Challinor said he had considered the fact that Blackwell would lose his job and as a result, his home if sent to prison but added: “This type of violent behaviour so often prevents law-abiding citizens from protesting peacefully.”

Mr Stephen Thomas, prosecuting, told the court Blackwell had been near the front of the group of EDL protesters who had thrown bottles and bits of metal at police, before launching the “flying kick” at a police officer’s riot shield and swearing at him.

Mr Thomas said the group had also been chanting at the police and naming people who had killed officers, including Raoul Moat just weeks before.

Blackwell, who was unrepresented after having an application for legal aid denied, told the court he was “ashamed” of himself.

“I’ve shamed my family and my girlfriend,” he said.┬áHe added that he considered the term ‘flying kick’ an “exaggeration”.

Two others who have also pleaded guilty to affray during the EDL march will be sentenced on May 31.

Scott Bailey, 23, of Central Drive, Gornal, is accused of throwing a fence at police while Anthony Grant, 20, of Georges Road, Netherton, is accused of throwing “stones and large objects.”

Express & Star