English Defence League supporters became involved in ‘grotesque violence’ as they tried to get into a pub on their way back from a rally, a court heard.
The clash between EDL supporters from Rugeley and Tamworth and drinkers at the pub in Nuneaton led to six men being sentenced at Warwick Crown Court for their parts in the disorder.
But because of the long delay in the police getting the case to court following the incident in February 2011, all six were handed suspended prison sentences.
Christopher Tully, John Horton, Neil Grant and Daniel Edkins were all sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 12 months after pleading guilty to violent disorder.
Tully, 26, of Cadogan Road, Dosthill, Tamworth, was also ordered to do 130 hours of unpaid work and to pay £300 costs.
Horton, 44, of Johnson Close, Rugeley, whose health problems make him unfit for unpaid work, was made subject to a 4pm to 3am electronically-tagged curfew for three months.
Grant, 45, of Stoneleigh Court, Coton Road, Nuneaton, was ordered to do 120 hours work and pay £300 costs, and Edkins, 31, of Marston Lane, Nuneaton, to do 110 hours and to pay £100 costs.
Stephen Ginnelly, 52, of Franklin Court, Nuneaton, who had also admitted violent disorder, and Douglas Tully, 25, of Cadogan Road, Dosthill, who had pleaded guilty to affray, were both sentenced to six months suspended for 12 months. They were both ordered to do 80 hours of unpaid work, with Ginnelly having to pay £100 costs and Douglas Tully £200.
A seventh man, Ross Gilbert, 27, of William Morris Close, Rugeley, who had admitted violent disorder, failed to turn up at the court, and his case was adjourned.
Prosecutor Jason Pegg said: “The disorder involved two groups. Both Tullys, together with Horton and Gilbert were part of the EDL group; and the second group was the other three defendants who were enjoying an evening in a pub in Nuneaton, the George Eliot in Bridge Street.
“The EDL group had been to Luton to an EDL demonstration. They got off the train and went into Nuneaton town centre. They bought some fish and chips and made their way to the George.”
CCTV coverage showed that on the way Christopher Tully put on gloves and a ski mask with the cross of St George on it.
When they reached the George Eliot at about 7.15pm people at the pub stood in the doorway to prevent them getting in.
Sentencing the men, Judge Griffith-Jones told them: “I don’t know if any of you thought you were being hard or impressive, you just looked truly pathetic.
“But the most important point in mitigation in this case is the fact that we are now in September 2014, and these events took place in February 2011.
“If I had been dealing with the case in any sort of reasonable period of time, it would have been my duty to set a sentence which would act as a deterrence to drunken thugs fighting in this way – but after three-and-a-half years such a sentence would not be just.”