A group of English Defence League supporters have been jailed for more than 75 years after violence flared at a protest in Birmingham last year.
Fifty men have appeared before Birmingham Crown Court over the past five weeks to be sentenced for violent disorder after ugly scenes were witnessed by police and visitors to the second city on 20 July 2013.
Following the disorder, which was largely seen at the EDL’s Centenary Square demonstration site, an inquiry was launched by detectives from the force’s criminal investigation department to track down those who brought violence to the streets of Birmingham.
Operations were conducted across the Midlands and further afield to arrest those believed to be involved in the disorder, with appeals to trace suspects from the disorder featuring on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme in January 2014 – leading to a flood of calls to the incident room.
People were arrested from as far afield as West Sussex and Tyne and Wear, having travelled to the West Midlands to take part in the demonstration.
After protestors listened to speeches and displayed their flags, factions of the crowd of around 2000 supporters started to turn violent with missiles being thrown at police who were trying to maintaining order.
A number of officers suffered minor injuries as they tried to restore order amongst the violent minority.
The sentencing began on 11 December with defendants appearing before the court right through until this morning (9 January) when the final two sentences were passed.
The sentences ranged from a 12 month community order to 3 years 8 months imprisonment.
Superintendent Richard Baker, from Birmingham police, said: “Violence has no place on the streets of Birmingham, regardless of motivation or whatever cause people are supporting.
“In July 2013 we launched a major operation to try and maintain calm and order for the thousands to allow the demonstrators a safe and peaceful place to stage their event, whilst allowing everyone else to go about their business in the city without concern.
“In the main the policing operation was successful, however there was a minority who were intent on causing violence and disruption – and it is those people who are now facing the most severe sentences.
“This week’s court proceedings should send a clear message to those who are intent on coming to the West Midlands to cause trouble – we will not tolerate such behaviour.
“A team of detectives have worked tirelessly on this investigation for more than a year, determined to trace those involved in the disorder and bring them to justice.
“People who commit public order offences such as these should not rest easy as, no matter how long it takes, we will find you.
“We recognise that the residents, visitors and businesses of Birmingham were both concerned and inconvenienced on the day and we hope that residents of the city are reassured by our efforts to bring those involved in the disorder to justice.”
Detective sergeant Harjit Ubhi led the year-long police investigation into the disorder. Following today’s final sentencing, he said: “To see all of those involved in the disorder finally brought to justice is a great testament to the hard work and dedication of the officers who painstakingly worked to identify and arrest those responsible.
“Our inquiry has seen us liaise with forces across the country in a bid to identify people who had travelled far and wide to take part in the protest, and subsequently arrest them.
“Twenty people were arrested at the time and we continued to arrest people up and down the country over the weeks and months that followed.
“We recovered many hours of CCTV, mobile phone and police footage which led to many months of detective work to painstakingly track those involved throughout the day’s events and then put a name to those faces.
“These court proceedings underline the fact that we will pursue people who commit crime in the West Midlands, no matter how long it takes, and bring them to justice.”
The following people have been convicted and sentenced for violent disorder during the protest of 20 July 2013:
1. Ashley Rowland, aged 25, of Adwick Road, Nesborough – 31 months
2. Neil Jones, aged 45, of Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury – 15 months
3. Melvyn Parker, 46, of Mewtondale Avenue, Mansfield – 24 months
4. Andrew Edge, aged 44, of Wellington Road, Stockport – 21 months
5. Mark Connor, aged 25, of Tantara Street, Walsall – 22 months
6. James Harrington, aged 30, of Kentmere Avenue, Leeds – 24 months
7. William Bartlett, aged 26, of Hotspur Avenue, Whitley Bay – 12 months
8. Joel Smith, aged 24, of Lupton Road, Sheffield – 30 months
9. James Cocks, aged 35, of Binton Close, Redditch – 24 months
10. Jake Hill, aged 32, of Church Street, Stourbridge – 22 months
11. Alan Fisher Crib, aged 20, of Wheeler Street, Newtown – 10 months
12. Shane Williams, aged 27, of Dragons Lane, Leicester – 24 months
13. Lloyd Lewis, aged 23, of Cooks Close, Atherstone – 14 months
14. Josh Norrey, aged 23, of Priors Way, Erdington – 25 months
15. Adam Beebee, aged 28, of Boundary Road, Erdington – 13 months
16. Anthony Webster, aged 38, of West Road, Newcastle – 21 months
17. Thomas Wilkie aged 23, of Kent Road, Wednesbury – 18 months
18. Rob Pay, aged 35, of Gypsy Lane, Erdington – 22 months
19. James Olley-Shields, aged 22, of Hanbury Hill, Stourbridge – 12 months
20. John Warrender, aged 28, of Oakdale Close, Oldbury – 15 months
21. Gareth Wall, aged 25, of Moresdale Lane, Leeds – 20 months
22. Thomas Milner, aged 21, of Herbert Street, Darlington – 16 months
23. Philip Collins – 16months + 2 + 17 months TOTAL 35 months
24. Benjamin Crowder, aged 22, of Lumsdale Crescent, Matlock – 24 months
25. Christopher Michael Layton, aged 28, of Tustin Grove, Acocks Green – 14 months + 6months TOTAL 20 months
26. Jason Harris, aged 40, of Lime Street, Eccles – 20 Months
27. Lee Joshua, aged 43, of St Marys Court, Brierley Hill – 16 months
28. Michael Dyer, aged 34, of Morse Road, Nailbridge – 12 months
29. Steven Cooke, aged 39, of London Road South, Lowestoft – 24 months
30. Simon Reeve, aged 43, of London Road, South, Lowestoft – 18 months
31. Adrian Rimmel, aged 51, of Swallow Avenue, Smithswood – 24 months
32. Thomas Flynn, aged 22, of Grange Drive, Swindon – 14 months
33. Otis Bloodworth, aged 36, of Market Place, Alford – 18 months
34. Scott Davidson, aged 24, of Camross Drive, Shrewsbury – 12 months
35. Gary Watts, aged 30, of Stevens Close, Canvey Island – 15 months
36. Andrew Warren/McGill, aged 48, of Freehold Street, Shoreham by Sea – 12 months
37. Stuart Snowball, aged 24, of Howarth Street, Sunderland – 13 months
38. Danny Purvis, aged 34, of Newcastle Hill, Kent – 27 months
39. Thomas Nelson, aged 21, of Seaforth Road, Bolton – 22 months
40. Matthew Dunn, aged 28, of Park Rod, Lowestoft – 12 months
41. Marc Collins, aged 34, of Bandywood Crescent, Kingstanding – 12 months
42. Lee Hunter, aged 32, of Nidd Drive, Castleford – 6 months
43. Sonny Marland, aged 20, of Meadow Road, Melksham – 8 months
44. Kenny Graham, aged 20, of Ottawa Road, Middlesborough – 26 months
45. Kane Moffatt, aged 22, of Hawthorne Crescent, Mexborough – 22 months
46. Adam Emms, aged 24, of Donnington Close, Redditch – 13 +13 TOTAL 26 months
47. Joshua Wall, aged 21, of The Ridgeway Erdington -16 + 29 +1 TOTAL 46 months
48. Karl Reed, aged 51, of Maple Grove, Bletchley – community order 12 months (not pictured)
49. Jamie Wilder, aged 22, Devonshire Road, Hastings – total of 6 and a half years (including other offences)
50. Mark Morgan, aged 25, of St Johns Avenue, Newcastle – 16 months
Sentencing for Michael Wilson, aged 20, of Arkley Crescent in Hartlepool was adjourned until 30 January.
One other man, Dean Kenny, is wanted on warrant in connection with the investigation.
Two men are yet to appear before court, charged with violent disorder at the counter demonstration on the day of the July 2013 protest.
Khurram Shabir, aged 22 of Finnemore Road, Bordesley Green pleaded guilty at a hearing in December and awaits sentence.
Nadeem Zaffar, aged 26, of Somerville Road, Small Heath, awaits trial at Birmingham Crown Court on 12 January.
A English Defence League supporter from the West Midlands involved in clashes with police while on crutches at a protest rally has been jailed for 16 months.
Lee Joshua claimed to have “enjoyed every minute” of violent scenes which left 30 police officers injured, and later posted an image of himself burning a copy of the Koran on Facebook.
Birmingham Crown Court heard that a Muslim prayer cap and a Pakistani flag were set on fire in the street, while police were pelted with paving slabs and bottles during the disorder in July 2013.
Around 200 EDL supporters were involved in the violence in the Broad Street and Centenary Square areas of Birmingham, which lasted for around two hours.
Joshua, said to have been at the fore-front of attempts to break through police lines, was sentenced alongside fellow EDL supporters Jake Hill, James Harrington and Adam Beebee.
Passing sentence on the men, who all admitted violent disorder, Judge Richard Bond said much of the conduct seen at the EDL rally had been “plainly racist and/or anti-Muslim”.
The judge told them: “There were seven separate sites where violence was either used of threatened.
“Even officers trained for public disorder and who have experience of such situations told both juries (in earlier trials) how scared they were of what was taking place.
“They had not seen aggression like this before despite their experience.”
Commenting on CCTV footage which showed police trying to stop EDL supporters from forcing their way into a building site, the judge added: “The only sensible option for the officers was to use their batons.”
The court heard that Hill, 22, of Mill Street, Brierley Hill, West Midlands, attempted to push a policeman, spat in the direction of another in a “deeply unpleasant” act, and was part of a crowd which attacked four officers trapped between two vans.
Hill, who was jailed 22 months, was told by the judge that his involvement in the disorder had been persistent and prolonged.
Harrington, a former bricklayer and grave-digger from Swarcliffe Road, Leeds, attended the rally wearing a One True Saxon T-shirt.
The 30-year-old father-of-two, who was jailed for two years, was seen on CCTV standing on top of a fast food kiosk holding a half-full bottle of brandy.
He later tried to hit a police officer using a placard on a length of wood, but was knocked off balance by a surge in the crowd.
Racist text message were found on Harrington’s phone after his arrest, showing that he was “looking for trouble” even before he arrived in Birmingham.
Beebee, 28, of Boundary Road, Erdington, Birmingham, was involved in two separate incidents of disorder and admitted trying to pass through police lines to “have a ruck” with counter-protesters.
The 28-year-old, who works for Jaguar Land Rover and gave himself up after a televised appeal for information, was sentenced to 13 months’ imprisonment.
Joshua, of Highbridge Road, Netherton, near Dudley, West Midlands, was seen pushing and shoving and being held back by EDL stewards.
After ending up with a large cut on his head, which the judge said was probably caused by a police baton, Joshua shouted “You lot done this” at officers.
The 43-year-old, who told police he had consumed 10 cans of lager, later posted a message on Facebook claiming the Koran was an “evil” book and showing a copy of it being burnt.
Judge Bond was told that Joshua had previously served eight custodial sentences after amassing a total of 89 previous convictions.
A further 48 men are due to be sentenced during December at the same court for offences linked to the disorder.
Jake Hill has a previous conviction for affray at an EDL demo in 2011. Details here.