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Darren Stokoe and Stephen Brown leaving Sunderland Magistrates' Court after pleading guilty to offences commited at an anti-mosque protest in Millfield, Sunderland

Darren Stokoe and Stephen Brown leaving Sunderland Magistrates’ Court after pleading guilty to offences commited at an anti-mosque protest in Millfield, Sunderland

SIX men have admitted charges after left and right-wing groups clashed at a demonstration in Sunderland.

They were arrested following a protest against plans to covert a former council depot in Millfield into a mosque.

Prosecutor Glenda Beck told Sunderland magistrates that demonstration began at 12.30pm on October 6, with both sides shouting at each other.

“The right-wing group was the most hostile,” she said. “Trying on several occasions to breach the police line to get at the left-wing demonstrators.

“The demonstration lasted about one hour before both groups moved away.”

Three Wearsiders were arrested following the clash.

Stephen George Brown, 32, of Palmerston Road in Pennywell, admitted a public order offence and religiously-aggravated harassment.

Mrs Beck said that at about 3pm, after the main demo had ended, he drew his first back and ran at a group of between 30 to 40 Asian men in Stewart Street.

He was charged with the second offence in November, after police viewed CCTV from the incident and heard him using anti-Muslim abuse.

Defending, Heather Bolton said Brown had friends and family living near the site of the mosque and he had aired his concerns about it at public meetings.

She added: “Both groups were chanting at each other and it appears that the other group made threats of violence and were making gestures of throat cutting.

“He accepts that he did retaliate in reaction to that and did make a comment in relation to Allah.”

Darren Stokoe, from Patrick Road, Pennywell, also pleaded guilty to a public order offence.

Mrs Beck said he was spotted by officers throwing an object at supporters of the mosque.

Mitigating, Mrs Bolton said Stokoe had been drinking in Millfield, came across the demonstration and decided to join in.

“He cannot recall throwing any object,” she added. “But accepts that he has.”

Both cases were adjourned for sentencing until April for Probation Service reports.

Anthony Farrer, 37, of Cleveland Road, was given a six-month conditional discharge after admitting throwing an egg at anti-fascists.

Also involved was Ronald Wood, 39, of Lonnen Drive in Swalwell, Gateshead, who was fined £110 after admitting racially-aggravated harassment.

Dean Spence, 23, of Yew Close, Spennymoor, admitted disorderly conduct, but denied throwing a firework, and was fined £73.

Shaun Bunting, 34, of Fenhall Green, Newton Aycliffe, was fined £133 after refusing to comply with a police notice to leave the area.

His solicitor, Jason Smith, said the offence took place outside The Chesters pub after the protest.

l Three men yesterday denied charges against them relating to the protests.

Simon Bigg, 47, of Todd’s Nook, Elswick, Newcastle; and William Smith, 44, of McLurian Crescent, Renfrewshire, Scotland, will stand trial in May accused of committing a public order offence.

Gary Biggar, 41, of Clarke Street, Kilmarnock, Scotland, denied racially-aggravated harassment and was released on bail until May.

Sunderland Echo

SIX men with links to a controversial right-wing pressure group have been ordered to pay almost £6,000 for chanting a sickening torrent of religious abuse

EDL members outside Teesside Magistrates Court

EDL members outside Teesside Magistrates Court

The men, who are associated with the English Defence League (EDL), were sentenced at Teesside Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

They were found guilty in August of shouting a highly inflammatory religious chant at Middlesbrough railway station.

Supporters of the men, some wearing EDL sweatshirts and carrying flags, gathered outside the court building yesterday as magistrates only allowed five people in the public gallery.

There was also a strong police presence both in and outside the court, along with mounted officers in Centre Square.

As reported, the group members – who all said they were associated to the EDL in some way – were convicted of religiously aggravated harassment and using threatening words or behaviour to cause harassment alarm or distress, after a two-day trial.

The incident happened at about 7.30pm on Saturday, December 10, after the group came to Middlesbrough to watch Boro play Brighton. But when they decided it was too cold, they visited several pubs in the town instead.

Trouble arose when the group arrived at the station and were heard by PC Andrew Ward, of British Transport Police, chanting EDL chants – as well as the highly inflammatory chant in question.

Addressing the defendants, Elizabeth Hutchinson, chairman of the bench, said: “It’s the court’s belief that you knew exactly what you were doing, that you deliberately set out to use racially abusive language and to intimidate members of the public.”

She added that the incident was aggravated by the fact that it was a group action which took place over a “length of time” where members of the public were present.

Between them, the defendants were fined £2,730 and ordered to pay £3,090 costs – adding up to £5,820. One person from the public gallery had to be escorted out by police after the sentencing.

Jak Beasley, 23, of Cedar Road, Bishop Auckland was fined £455 and ordered to pay £515 costs.

Ross Williams, 23, of Ebberston Court, Spennymoor, was fined £420 and ordered to pay £515 costs.

Christopher Caswell, 32, of West Auckland Road, Darlington, was fined £455 and ordered to pay £515 costs.

Paul Ross, 48, of Auckland Wind, Shildon, was fined £525 and ordered to pay £515 costs.

Dean Spence, 23, of Yew Close, Spennymoor, fined £455 and ordered to pay £515 costs.

Shaun Bunting, 33, of Fenhall Green, Newton Aycliffe, was fined £420 and ordered to pay £515 costs.

The EDL was formed in response to a protest in March 2009 organised by an Islamic group against troops returning from the war in Afghanistan.

The group states its aim is to demonstrate peacefully but conflicts with Unite Against Fascism and other opponents have led to street violence, anti-social behaviour and arrests.

In July last year, about 500 EDL supporters marched through Middlesbrough. The event, which was marked by a large police presence, passed off peacefully

Gazette Live

A GROUP of men linked to the English Defence League have been fined for chanting racially motivated abuse after attending a football match.

The six, from south-west Durham, were found guilty of shouting highly inflammatory chants at Middlesbrough railway station.

Yesterday, more than 50 members of the far-right organisation gathered outside Teesside Magistrates’ Court to show their support, and anger flared when court officials would only allow five of them in the public gallery.

There was a heavy police presence in the town after supporters met in a nearby pub before going to the court.

The court heard how the men, who represented themselves at last month’s trial, shouted abuse at the station in December last year, after Middlesbrough’s game against Brighton.

The court was told they were singing EDL chants and when they started singing a highly inflammatory religious chant, a police officer decided to eject them from the station.

As the group left, one of the men, Christopher Caswell, 32, became aggressive and raised his fist and a British Transport Police officer responded by spraying him with CS gas and calling for police back-up.

Paul Ross , 47, who told the court he runs the south-west Durham division of the EDL, said the group had just been taking part in a bit of banter.

Kevin Smallcombe, in mitigation, said: “All of the defendants will recognise the decision that this court has made, but that is not to say it is accepted, and there will be an appeal.”

Elizabeth Hutchinson, the chairwoman of the bench, said: “You knew exactly what you were doing and you deliberately set out to use racially abusive language and intimidate members of the public, in particular the PC who was carrying out his duties.”

Jak Beasley, 23, of Cedar Road, Bishop Auckland , was ordered to pay £970 in fines and costs; Caswell, 32, of West Auckland Road, Darlington, was ordered to pay £970; Ross, 48 of Auckland Wynd, Shildon , was ordered to pay £1,040; Shaun Bunting, 33, of Fenhall Green, Newton Aycliffe< , was ordered to pay £935; Ross Williams, 23, of Ebberston Court, Spennymoor , was also ordered to pay £935 and Dean Spence, 22, of Yew Close, Spennymoor, was ordered to pay £970.

When the fines were announced, one supporter was ordered out of the public gallery for swearing, and others started chanting when the six defendants left the court building.

Northern Echo