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31 men from across the country, aged between 18 and 59, have been given sentences totalling 60 years and eight months for their part in the 2012 disorder which broke out in Walsall following an English Defence League demonstration.

Over 600 supporters of the EDL held a demonstration in the town centre on 29 September last year. A counter demonstration was also held nearby by the Unite Against Fascism group. Police officers had to keep the two groups apart.

A number of officers and EDL stewards were injured when the atmosphere turned hostile and supporters of the EDL threw missiles at the police.

The following men have been sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court for their part in the disorder:

Douglas Ralston (53) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months

Darren Davies (49) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 22 months

Neil MacDiarmid (50) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 15 months

Alan Turnbull (32) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 26 months

Stephen Currien (30) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 28 months

Lee Rogers (26) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 24 months

Gary Lycett (55) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 26 months

Jack Lambert (25) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 14 months

Michael Thomas (49) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 28 months

Jack Clark (22) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 16 months

Christopher Boyall (31) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 24 months

Benjamin Banfield (35) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months

Mark Baker (44) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 21 months

Dean Lidster (44) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 28 months

Craig Forward (38) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 25 months

Stephen Bennett (23) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months

Christopher Jelley (28) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 22 months

Myles Smith (39) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 24 months

Nicholas Cooper (28) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 27 months

Peter Kirkham (30) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 14 months

Mark Conroy (35) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 30 months

Kirk Reeves (40) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 18 months

Richard Schulz (38) – found guilty after trial to violent disorder and sentenced to 42 months

Dean Smith (33) – found guilty after trial to violent disorder and sentenced to 27 months

John Cureton (48) – found guilty after trial to violent disorder and sentenced to 36 months

Kirk Jones (28) – found guilty after trial to violent disorder and sentenced to 33 months

Ronald Hatton (59) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months, suspended for two years and 200 hours unpaid work.

Leslie Silk (37) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years with 200 hours unpaid work.

Samuel Phipps (18) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 16 months, suspended for two years, 200 hours unpaid work.

Duncan Smith (43) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months, suspended for two years, 200 hours unpaid work.

Lee Coxshall (aged 34) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 14 months, suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work

On 29 September, the English Defence League had arranged for their supporters from around the country to assemble in Walsall for a demonstration. It is the right of anyone to hold a peaceful assembly and Article 10 of the European Commission for Human Rights provides the right for freedom of expression; however, on that day, the supporters of the EDL went far beyond freedom of expression or a peaceful assembly.

Fuelled by hate and alcohol, a section of the group, instigated by key figures within the demonstration, began to direct their anger towards the counter demonstration. As police then sought to contain the group, supporters of the EDL began throwing missiles.

Police officers were then exposed to some of the worst violence that they have been subjected to in a public order situation. Concrete slabs, bricks and a table leg were among some of the various items which were used as weapons and thrown at the officers.

Those engaged in such reprehensible conduct paid little regard to what they were doing or who they were attacking, as during their orgy of violence, a number of their own EDL stewards, as well as police officers, were seriously injured.

A year on from those violent scenes those responsible for their actions that day have been arrested, brought to justice and now they have to face the consequences for their actions.

– Robin Allen, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service

ITV News

The day of reckoning came for nine more yobs who took part in an English Defence League protest in Walsall town centre that escalated into violence.

Eight men were jailed by a judge yesterday, while an 18-year-old who was a youth at the time was spared an immediate prison term.

It follows prison sentences on Monday for seven men who took part in the same protest. More thugs were being sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court today.

Yesterday, the court heard how Dean Lidster kicked out at a police dog. He was among others who broke up a wooden table outside the Wetherspoon’s pub in the town and picked up pieces of a ceramic pot. The 44-year-old of London hurled the pieces over the police line. He was put behind bars for 28 months.

Mark Conway spat at police officers and launched a fly kick. He initially denied his involvement but changed his plea ahead of trial. The 35-year-old, of no fixed address, was jailed for 30 months. Thomas Schofield, defending, said he had seen trying to pacify the situation.

“He has not been involved in a disorder of this kind before. There is genuine remorse from this defendant,” he said.

Christopher Jelley, of Broadway Close, Shrewsbury, who served in the Army, was seen trying to square up to a female officer. He had gestured using his finger across the throat. Judge Nicholas Webb gave him to 22 months.

Benjamin Banfield, 35, of Cobhorn Drive, Bristol, squared up to officers and was kicking out and spitting. He threw missiles and was shouting. Banfield was handed a 20-month term.

Samuel Phipps, 18, of Lingfield Drive, Great Wyrley, avoided an immediate 16 months detention as it was suspended for two years. He was ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work.

Patrick Currie, defending, said the teenager was 17 at the time of the offence. The former Army Cadet had dreams of serving as a soldier before a severe knee injury. He has since gone on to an engineering course at the University of Wolverhampton. Mr Patrick Currie, defending, said: “This was a young man who behaved totally out of character.”

Judge Webb, accepting Phipps had been influenced towards the EDL by someone else, said: “ You have been very, very lucky you have escaped custody by the skin of your teeth.”

They all admitted their involvement and offences of violent disorder. Four more men who were convicted of violent disorder following a trial were also sentenced.

They included Dean Smith, of Brunswick Park Road, Wednesbury, who was said to be at the ‘forefront’ of the action although he didn’t throw or chant anything. He received 27 months.

Express & Star

walsall

Trouble flared at the EDL rally in Leicester Street on September 29 last year, while Unite Against Fascism held a separate event elsewhere in the town centre.

Hundreds of EDL supporters had been in the town and some stewards, EDL supporters and police officers suffered injuries when violence erupted.

Seven men appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday and each pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder.

Mark Baker, aged 43, of Horseshoe Close, Pleck, Walsall; Benjamin Banfield, 34, of Meg Thatchers Green, Saint George, Bristol; Dean Lidster, 44, of Hatfield Road, Stratford; and Craig Forward, aged 37, of Neptune Street, Tipton, stood together in the jury box as they delivered their pleas in front of Judge Michael Challinor.

Christopher Jelley, 27, of Broadway Close, Shrewsbury; Myles Smith, 39, of Parkway Towers, Leeds, and Leslie Silk, 36, of Gatcombe Road, Bristol, also appeared in a separate hearing.

Apart from entering their guilty pleas, the defendants only spoke to confirm their names, addresses and dates of birth during their appearances.

Their cases were adjourned for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Mr Stephen Cadwaladr, representing Baker, said his client had learning difficulties and was addicted to alcohol.

He said medical reports would also be prepared.

The defendants are each due to appear in front of a judge at Wolverhampton Crown Court in the coming months to be sentenced. They were all released on conditional bail.

The protest in the town centre caused shops and market stalls to close, and buses and taxis were suspended.

Police scoured CCTV footage and arrested a number of suspects thought to have been involved in the disorder.

Missiles including bricks and wooden panels were hurled at police, despite calls from the group’s leaders for calm.

Steel police cordons were set up in Bridge Street and Darwall Street, bringing parts of the town centre to a standstill.

The main bus station St Paul’s was also closed and buses were diverted, leaving some shoppers and visitors to the town stranded.

Chief Inspector Mike O’Hara said the trouble had been confined mostly to Leicester Street and the rest of the day had passed peacefully.

Express & Star