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Michale Kearns was jailed for Bold Street attack on anti-fascists

Michael Kearns, 43 of Dovecot Ave, Dovecot

Michael Kearns, 43 of Dovecot Ave, Dovecot

A Liverpool man jailed this week over a £5m drugs plot has links to the same extremist group involved in violent scenes on the steps of St George’s Hall.

Michael Kearns was part of a right-wing gang that caused a mass brawl in Liverpool city centre when they attacked anti-fascists in 2013.

After serving time for his role in that skirmish he is now back behind bars after cops busted the drugs operation he was part of.

Kearns, 43, was one of 13 men sentenced to a total of more than 60 years on Thursday for their involvement in cocaine and amphetamine plots.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the drugs gang used ‘apparently harmless’ middle-aged people driving cars and caravans to try and avoid the attention of cops.

Kearns was caught with others members of the group with 227g of 83 per cent pure cocaine while travelling on the M6.

He was jailed for five years and four months.

Now, the ECHO can reveal the 43-year-old was among a group of far-right activists that targeted anti-fascist rivals in a violent attack on Bold Street back in 2013.

Shoppers watched in horror as the men punched and kicked people heading for a fundraising gig at the News From Nowhere Bookshop.

The trouble then spilled into Cafe Tabac, with CCTV of the brawl showing diners being forced to flee the trouble.

Kearns, of Dovecot Avenue, was described as being ‘in the thick’ of the violence by Judge Robert Trevor-Jones.

Then – handing him 14 months for violent disorder as he sentenced the group – the judge added: “All of you were either members of, or have associations with, groups which happen to hold right-wing views or positions whether it be the National Front, English Defence Force or North West Infidels.

“It is that common factor which brought you all together on Bold Street that evening because you had been made aware there was to be some form of anti-fascist meeting.”

The North West Infidels were the extremist group behind last month’s Liverpool city centre rally that saw trouble flare between the right-wing gang and anti-fascist rivals.

While Kearns is thought to have been in custody during February’s demonstration, it is believed Blackburn-based Shane Calvert was among those who took part.

The 34-year-old was jailed alongside Kearns for violent disorder in relation to the Bold Street incident.

Liverpool Echo

Thirteen people involved in cocaine and amphetamine plots jailed for more than 60 years

A £5m drugs gang used “apparently harmless” middle-aged people driving cars and caravans to try and avoid the attention of cops.

Thirteen people involved in cocaine and amphetamine plots were today jailed for more than 60 years at Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge Alan Conrad, QC, said the gang’s three conspiracies were “marked by their professionalism and careful organisation”.

He said: “Legitimate businesses were used as cover. Taxis were used. Vans were acquired and liveried to appear legitimate.

“Cars and caravans were used – driven by apparently harmless middle-aged people in order to avoid attention.

“As and when drugs were seized this was treated simply as a risk of the enterprise and the operation continued, with the methods used changing.”

The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (TITAN) investigated the gang’s activities between February 2014 and June 2015 as part of Operation Pitscale.

Simon Berkson, prosecuting, said 47-year-old Paul Berry – who co-owned an internet tickets and events company in Manchester – was the ringleader.

Berry’s “right hand man” Stephen Reeves, 48, used his furniture business Skemersdale Furnishings as a cover to transport drugs.

Kenneth Pritchard, 67, used his BMW to “transport box loads of drugs” and allowed his caravan, kept in a timber yard in Burscough, to be used to store cocaine.

Dean Stephen, 36, was provided with a van “disguised with a false logo” to transport significant amounts of drugs, which he also stored at his home.

The court heard Lee Tarry, 33, was stopped by police travelling from Skelmersdale to Glasgow in a taxi on February 14, 2014.

Hidden inside a bed – identical to those sold by Reeves’ furniture firm – was 3kg of 60-70% pure cocaine, valued at £720,000.

On June 16, 2014, a dog walker found 45kg of amphetamine, valued up to £900,000, in rural Meadow Lane, Ormskirk.

Peter Linford, 58, had hired a van, collected the haul and “stashed it in a hedge overnight”, but was caught when he returned to collect the drugs.

Reeves and Linford also disguised a Ford Connect van with the logo ‘Auto Valet Direct’ before it was given to Stephen.

Officers seized 51kg of amphetamine from this van and Stephen’s home, valued at £514,000, on October 9.

Police stopped drugs courier Warren Bennett, 36, who was driving a tipper truck in Litherland , on December 8.

They asked him to move a heavy bag, which he initially said contained tools, before shouting: “I’m f***ed, I’m f***ed!”

When asked what he meant, the defendant replied “It’s full of whizz”, revealing 46kg of amphetamine, valued at up to £456,000.

After months of observing Pritchard, police stopped his BMW X5 on February 12, 2015.

Officers recovered 68kg of amphetamine from the car and 2kg of “import quality” cocaine – secreted in a void in a cupboard – from his caravan.

On March 7 they caught Darren Highfield, 44, transporting 18kg of amphetamine to Sheffield to the homes of Dimitri Wright, 40, and Ryan Vintin, 38.A

nd on April 21, 227g of 83% pure cocaine was found in a car containing Stephen Higgs, 32, Micheal Kairns, 43, and Anoushka Lindsay, 40, on the M6.

The gang all pleaded guilty to their involvement in respective conspiracies, with Berry and Reeves admitting all three charges.

Berry, of Abbey Walk, Preston, who was on licence for a previous cocaine plot, was jailed for 11 years.

Reeves, of Charnock, Skelmersdale, who had no previous convictions, was jailed for nine years.

Linford, of Groveside, Edge Hill, was sentenced to four and a half years.

Pritchard, of Manor Crescent, Burscough, and Kearns, of Dovecot Avenue, Huyton, were both handed five years and four months.

Wright, of The Meads, and Vintin, of Luna Croft, both in Sheffield, were jailed for three years and eight months and three years and four months respectively.

Tarry, of Cherrycroft, Skelmersdale was jailed for five years, and Higgs, of Wadeson Road, Walton, for three years.

Stephen, of Egerton, Skelmersdale, was handed an extra 12 months on top of an existing three-year sentence.

Bennett, of no fixed abode but from Preston, had one month added to an existing three year and four months term.

Couriers Martin Cleary, 37, of Shaw Lane, Prescot, and Highfield, of Hollybank Way, Sheffield, received two years behind bars.

Lindsay, of Molyneux Road, Kensington, will be sentenced on March 24.

Liverpool Echo

The far-right supporter jailed in this story is Michael “Mayo” Kearns. He was also jailed for violent disorder after attacking a group of anti-fascists with the North West infidels. You can read that report here

Liam Pinkham, Shane Calvert, The unnamed 17 year old, Peter Hawley

Liam Pinkham, Shane Calvert, The unnamed 17 year old, Peter Hawley

Six far-right sympathisers who ambushed people going to an anti-fascist benefit gig in front of shocked city centre onlookers have today been jailed.

The men pleaded guilty to violent disorder following an incident in Liverpool city centre on 6 July 2012.

Liam Pinkham, 35, from Birkenhead, was sentenced to 17 months in prison.

Michael Kearns 41, from Liverpool, was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Matthew Coates, 22, from Southport, was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Peter Hawley, 53, from Blackburn, was sentenced to 13 months in prison.

Shane Calvert, 32, from Blackburn, was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Stephen Dumont, 18, from Netherley, has been sentenced to 5 months detention in a Youth Offenders’ Institution for this offence and a further 4 months for an offence of racially aggravated assault.

Nathan Smith had pleaded guilty to violent disorder at an earlier hearing but failed to turn up to court today and a bench warrant has now been issued for him.

During the case, the court heard that the men shared right wing views and had meant to disrupt an anti-fascist group benefit gig at the News from Nowhere bookshop in Bold Street in Liverpool city centre on 6 July 2012.

However, Anya Horwood, Senior Crown Advocate for CPS Mersey- Cheshire, said in court: “While this may have been the backdrop, what actually happened was a wanton act of public disorder which resulted in real fear, injury and damage.”

The defendants attacked members of the anti-fascist group as they walked up Bold Street and in the Tabac bar and cafe, which is near to the News from Nowhere bookshop, shortly before the benefit gig was due to begin.

Anya Horwood said: “This was an entirely unprovoked attack by the defendants and others. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.”

After the sentences were handed out, Helen Morris, Senior Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service, Mersey- Cheshire, said: “The violence used by the defendants on that day caused real fear among the ordinary members of the public who just happened to have the misfortune to be in the area.

“They launched an unprovoked assault on their victims in a public place and were reckless as to the effect of that on anyone around them. These offences are serious and that’s reflected in the sentences imposed by the Court.”

Click Liverpool