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.
AN English Defence League supporter who hurled a fire extinguisher at police officers at “almost point blank range” as violence flared in Birmingham has been jailed.
Ashley Rowland was among up to 300 people involved in bloody clashes with police during a demonstration in the city centre on July 20 last year.
Thirty officers were injured with one needing hospital treatment.
Judge Richard Bond said Rowland was the most heavily-involved of more than 50 defendants due to be sentenced over the violence and had moved between various pockets of trouble.
He chanted racial and anti-religious slogans with others and aggressively confronted officers in Centenary Square.
And Rowland tried to scale a wall outside the International Convention Centre and threw a plank of wood which hit a police officer after he and other demonstrators raided a building site.
Outside the Hyatt Hotel, he picked up three pieces of a metal hotel sign which he also threw at a police cordon, Birmingham Crown Court heard.
At one point four officers became trapped on Broad Street and were surrounded.
Judge Bond told Rowland: “You picked up a fire extinguisher and forcefully threw it at the trapped officers.”
Rowland, 25, of Mexborough, South Yorkshire, had previously admitted a charge of violent disorder and was jailed for 31 months.
Three others were also sentenced for their roles in the trouble today.
Melvyn Parker, 47, of Mansfield, and James Cocks, 35, of Binton Close, Redditch, were both sentenced to two years while Jason Harris, 40, of Eccles, Salford, was jailed for 20 months.
They had also pleaded guilty to violent disorder.
Passing sentence, the judge said the atmosphere before the 2,000-strong demonstration was “highly charged” following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby on a street in London.
The trouble lasted for around two hours and broke out at seven sites as EDL supporters tried to break through a police cordon and reach counter-demonstrators.
The worst violence was in Centenary Square where missiles were thrown, officers were kicked and punched and portable toilets were used as weapons.
Gerry Bermingham, for Rowland, said he had set up a small business since the incident and was trying to rehabilitate himself.
Nigel Stelling, for Parker, said he was “out of control” with drink and drugs when he joined the EDL.
A total of eight men have now been jailed for their roles in the violence.
Yesterday, four other defendants were jailed for a total of more than six years for their parts.
July 2013 demonstration saw clashes between EDL supporters, anti-fascist protesters and police
It was a day drenched in blood which saw Broad Street and Centenary Square ring-fenced by legions of riot police.
Windows were smashed, cobbles torn up and fences around the unfinished Library Of Birmingham were demolished.
Now 16 men have pleaded guilty to committing violent disorder at the height of a 2,000-strong English Defence League rally last July.
All of the men, from the West Midlands and other parts of the country, appeared at Birmingham Crown Court.
Each faced a charge of violent disorder stemming from the July 20 demonstration, in which it was said they had threatened unlawful violence.
The charge stated they had acted in a group where their conduct would make others fear for their safety.
All 16 spoke only to confirm their names and to enter their guilty pleas.
His Honour Judge Murray Creed adjourned their cases for sentencing to a later date.
The demonstration against radical Islam brought fear to the city streets, as coaches ferried about 2,000 EDL supporters to Broad Street.
A 300-strong counter demonstration by Unite Against Fascism and other rival groups was held in nearby Chamberlain Square.
In total 47 people have since been charged by West Midlands Police for offences relating to the protests.
Some were arrested following high-profile appeals on the BBC Crimewatch programme in January.
At the time Detective Chief Inspector Simon Wallis, from the Force Criminal Investigation Department, said: “We want to make it clear that regardless of how many months have passed we are still continuing to identify and arrest people involved in violent scenes at last summer’s protests.
“Anyone who brings violence to our streets will be pursued by police, particularly if they cause significant harm to others or damage to property.”
On the day of the disorder, EDL supporters arrived in the city and gathered at Broad Street’s Bar Risa.
Fuelled by drink, they marched to Centenary Square where then leader Tommy Robinson delivered a speech in the shadow of the ICC and Symphony Hall.
It was during the speeches that violence flared between EDL supporters and cops clad in full riot gear.
At one point a portable toilet, set up for the protesters, was tipped over while fences around the new library were torn down.
As flash points moved from one side of the square to the other, missiles were thrown at cops including bottles, and cobble stones.
It was estimated around £6,000 of damage was caused to a sign at the entrance to the Hyatt Hotel, as demonstrators again clashed with police.
One policeman suffered concussion during scuffles while other demonstrators were left bloodied by missiles amid clashes with the police.
DCI Wallis added in an earlier appeal: “In one incident alone £150,000 worth of damage was caused to an office block in the city centre and violent protesters used items from the nearby construction site of the new Birmingham Library as missiles or weapons to cause damage.”
Those who pleaded guilty at court on Wednesday were:
Josh Norrey, 22, of Priors Way, Birmingham;
Adam Beebee, 27, of Boundary Road, Birmingham;
Allan Fisher-Cribb, 19, of Wheeler Street, Newtown, Birmingham;
Mark Connor, 24, from Wood Lane, Streetly, Birmingham;
James Cocks, 34, of Binton Close, Redditch, Worcestershire;
Ashley Rowland , 24, from Adwick Road, Nesborough, Barnsley;
Neil Jones, 44, from Meadow Farm Drive, Shrewsbury;
Melvyn Parker, 46, from Newtondale Ave, Mansfield;
Dean Kenney, 41, from Bannister Green Villas, Felsted, Essex;
William Bartlett, 25, from Hotspur Ave, Whitley Bay;
Kenny Graham, 19, from Ottawa Road, Middlesbrough;
Joel Smith, 23, of Lupton Road, Sheffield;
Jake Hill, 21, of Mill Street, Brierley Hill;
Mark Morgan, 24, of Wedgwood Street, Newcastle Under Lyme;
Lloyd Lewis, 22, of Cooks Close, Atherstone;
Thomas Milner, 21, of Greenwell Street, Darlington.
A THUG who repeatedly punched an anti-fascist protester in front of children during an EDL march in Hull city centre has walked free from court. John Claydon, 46, was caught on CCTV punching David Harding, who was part of a small group of men and women taking part in a counter-protest.
Yesterday, Recorder Michael Smith sentenced Claydon who has convictions for violence from 1999, 2001 and 2007 to an 18-month community order and 100 hours’ unpaid work.
HGV driver Clayon, 46, of Dronfield, Derbyshire, pleaded guilty to assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
Prosecutor Stephen Welch told Hull Crown Court: “On Saturday, August 17, the EDL held a march within Hull city centre. There was a heavy police presence, with some 300 people on the march, as it passed along Ferensway, past St Stephen’s shopping centre.
“At approximately 2.20pm, it became clear that there were six to eight people who were protesting against the EDL. The complainant had been holding a banner stating that Hull is multicultural.”
Mr Welch said the protesters, members of the group United Against Fascism, had been holding a “silent protest”.
CCTV captured the moment two men, identified as Claydon and Melvyn Parker, broke away from the main EDL group.
Mr Welch said: “Mr Parker grabbed the banner that Mr Harding had been holding and tried to push it away.
“He then pushed a female who approached him. That concluded his involvement.
“Mr Claydon then punched Mr Harding repeatedly in the face. Mr Claydon continued to punch him while Mr Harding was on the floor.
“It did not cease until he was hauled off Mr Harding by PCSOs.”
The attack happened in full view of children, said Mr Welch.
Mr Harding suffered a cut to his forehead, which required ten stitches, and two black eyes, and was off work for a week.
Following the attack, he had trouble sleeping and is psychologically scarred, said Mr Welch.
Claydon admitted having attended previous EDL meetings, where he claimed to have been attacked, physically and verbally, by anti-fascist protesters.
During an earlier hearing, Claydon had refuted the prosecution’s case that he had punched Mr Harding up to six times.
Richard Thompson, defending, said his client claimed to have heard members of the rival group shouting insults at soldiers.
Mr Welch strongly denied this suggestion.
Mr Thompson said: “Mr Claydon accepts that he allowed his emotions to get the better of him.
“The assault was over within ten seconds. This was not a sustained attack.”
Sentencing, Recorder Smith said it was a sensitive case, but told Claydon the politics of the march was “of no concern” to him.
He said: “I am sentencing you purely and simply for the act of violence in a public place.”
As part of his punishment, Claydon must complete an anger management course and pay Mr Harding – who was not present in court – £500 compensation.
Parker, 46, of Mansfield, Nottingham, was made to pay £265 costs at a hearing at Hull Magistrates’ Court on September 1.