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MEMBERS of the public were forced to cower as football yobs from a gang known as the Sunderland Youth Firm clashed with rival fans in the city centre.

CCTV footage of the organised mass brawl, outside the Revolution bar in Low Row, shows punches and kicks being thrown while bottles were being broken, leaving the pavements covered in shards of glass.

One witness told police they felt “sick to the stomach” by what they saw that day.

Troublemakers then boasted about the violence with West Ham fans, via social networking sites and text messages.

Videos of the fight were also posted on video-sharing website YouTube.

Newcastle Crown Court heard members of the public looked on in fear and were worried for the safety of their children, when the afternoon trouble broke out ahead of the match on January 12.

The yobs were spared jail, but handed football banning orders for three years.

Judge Jeremy Freedman told them: “Football is a source of pleasure to literally millions of people.

“What football hooliganism of the type you engaged in does, is besmirch the good name of football and deter people from going to matches, particularly parents who want to take young children, lest they get caught up in scenes of violence.

“Members of the public can reasonably expect to enjoy the amenities of the town centre without being exposed to this kind of frightening activity.”

Prosecutor Robert Adams told the court the violence itself lasted only about three minutes, by which time police arrived. Mobile phones were seized when the gang was arrested.

Nobody reported any serious injury.

Mr Adams told the court: “It is the Crown’s case that all of the defendants were involved, to some extent in any event, with an organisation self-named the Sunderland Youth Firm.”

Mr Adams said the seized mobile phones showed a series of text message exchanges and boasts on social networking sites both before and after the trouble.

One message said: “Anyone who comes to our city doesn’t leave without a good clip.” Another message, relating to a future game, said: “What are they going to do? Get punched from one end of Sunderland to the other.”

As well as the written messages, the court heard the phones contained pictures and videos of the violence that day.

One of the men declared he “loves football hooliganism” on his Twitter biography.

The court heard the men are not heavily convicted and come from respectable backgrounds.

Defence barrister Christopher Knox said: “The reality is, as soon as the police arrived, everybody ran away.”

Sunderland Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, said: “There is no place for violence at football matches and we will always do everything possible to make sure those suspected of being involved are traced and put before the courts.”

Football hooligans named and shamed

Lewis Dodsworth, 19, of Bowburn Avenue, Wear View, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 250 hours’ unpaid work.

Bradley Dixon, 19, of Patton Road, Plains Farm, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with £1,000 costs.

Thomas Kelly, 19, of Eighth Avenue, Chester-le-Street, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and 250 hours’ unpaid work.

Former EDL member Anthony Smith, 26, of Purvis Terrace, Trimdon, who claimed to love hooliganism on his Twitter page, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and 250 hours’ unpaid work.

Connor McCoy, 21, of Perth Avenue, Jarrow, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 250 hours’ unpaid work and 12 months supervision.

Paratrooper Jamie Phenny, 21, of The Spinney, Bridgend, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with £1,000 costs.

Christopher Webb, 24, of East Herrington, Sunderland, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and an alcohol treatment programme.

All pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder at an earlier hearing.

Sunderland Echo

A PAIR of drunken teenagers who smashed three cars after a house party, causing £1,400 damage, have been hit in the pocket.

Jamie Popov and Shane Martin jumped on car bonnets and roofs and punched and kicked windows on doors in a wrecking spree between Westoe Crown Village and the Coast Road, in South Shields.

Popov, 19, and Martin, 18, both of Summerhill, Jarrow, pleaded guilty to three charges each of criminal damage at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court last week and returned this week to be sentenced.

After reading reports about the pair from the probation service, magistrates gave them both community orders.

As part of his six-month order, Popov must abide by a curfew between 7pm and 7am every Friday and Saturday, while Martin must be supervised by the probation service for 12 months and carry out 250 hours’ unpaid work.

Both must pay £375 to the owners of the cars they damaged.

Glenda Beck, prosecuting, said the spree took place on June 4, when cars outside homes in the Coast Road, Brass Thill Way, and The Broadway, South Shields, were dented by the pair.

One of the victims, whose two-week-old Audi TT was damaged, made a statement which was read out in court.

It said: “I am absolutely devastated that a car I have worked hard to pay for has been mindlessly damaged on my own driveway.”

Vic Laffey, defending Martin, said: “On occasions, my client drinks too much.

“It is very difficult to mitigate an act of criminal damage, because it is hard to work out the motivation behind it.”

Defending himself, Popov said he was sorry and knows that he drinks too much.

Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette

Shane Martin.

Shane Martin.



A TEENAGER armed with a martial arts weapon threatened visitors and staff at South Tyneside’s hospital maternity unit.

Shane Martin and two friends were told to leave the grounds of the borough’s District Hospital after being refused entry in the early hours of November 6 last year.

Newcastle Crown Court heard that the group continued to try to get in, while women giving birth and being looked after inside could hear their drunken threats and abuse.

When a security guard tried to usher them away, Martin, 18 – who was armed with a set of nunchucks – directed a torrent of abuse and threats at him.

Judge John Milford yesterday jailed Martin, of Summerhill, Jarrow, for eight months after he pleaded guilty to having an offensive weapon and threatening behaviour.

The judge said anyone who behaves in such a way inside hospital grounds can expect to go to jail.

Debbie Breen, prosecuting, told the court Martin had turned up at the hospital in Harton Lane, South Shields, with his pals in tow, to confront a patient’s stepfather over an earlier row.

Miss Breen told the court: “The security guard said he could immediately see they had been drinking.

“They were shouting outside the doors and trying to gain access to the maternity department.”

She added: “They all became abusive towards the security guard.

“The defendant was very agitated. He is described as being in the security guard’s face.

“He was shouting and swearing, and threats were directed towards the stepfather of a patient.”

The court heard a second security guard came to try to calm the trouble, and the police were called.

While staff waited for officers to arrive, Martin was shouting “I will kill you all” and continued to hurl foul abuse.

Miss Breen said: “The verbal abuse could be heard by patients within the unit.”

By the time police arrived, Martin had thrown the nunchucks – which he did not produce during the incident – into a bush, but they were recovered by officers.

Judge Milford jailed Martin after hearing he was on bail for offences of criminal damage at the time of the incident.

He said: “Over a period of about half an hour you shouted, swore and used threatening language.

“You will go straight to custody, as will anyone who acts in this manner and carries a weapon at a hospital.”

Vic Laffey, defending, said Martin accepts he was “very foolish” that night.

Jarrow and Hebburn Gazette