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31 men from across the country, aged between 18 and 59, have been given sentences totalling 60 years and eight months for their part in the 2012 disorder which broke out in Walsall following an English Defence League demonstration.

Over 600 supporters of the EDL held a demonstration in the town centre on 29 September last year. A counter demonstration was also held nearby by the Unite Against Fascism group. Police officers had to keep the two groups apart.

A number of officers and EDL stewards were injured when the atmosphere turned hostile and supporters of the EDL threw missiles at the police.

The following men have been sentenced at Wolverhampton Crown Court for their part in the disorder:

Douglas Ralston (53) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months

Darren Davies (49) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 22 months

Neil MacDiarmid (50) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 15 months

Alan Turnbull (32) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 26 months

Stephen Currien (30) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 28 months

Lee Rogers (26) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 24 months

Gary Lycett (55) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 26 months

Jack Lambert (25) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 14 months

Michael Thomas (49) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 28 months

Jack Clark (22) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 16 months

Christopher Boyall (31) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 24 months

Benjamin Banfield (35) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months

Mark Baker (44) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 21 months

Dean Lidster (44) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 28 months

Craig Forward (38) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 25 months

Stephen Bennett (23) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months

Christopher Jelley (28) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 22 months

Myles Smith (39) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 24 months

Nicholas Cooper (28) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 27 months

Peter Kirkham (30) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 14 months

Mark Conroy (35) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 30 months

Kirk Reeves (40) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 18 months

Richard Schulz (38) – found guilty after trial to violent disorder and sentenced to 42 months

Dean Smith (33) – found guilty after trial to violent disorder and sentenced to 27 months

John Cureton (48) – found guilty after trial to violent disorder and sentenced to 36 months

Kirk Jones (28) – found guilty after trial to violent disorder and sentenced to 33 months

Ronald Hatton (59) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months, suspended for two years and 200 hours unpaid work.

Leslie Silk (37) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years with 200 hours unpaid work.

Samuel Phipps (18) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 16 months, suspended for two years, 200 hours unpaid work.

Duncan Smith (43) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 20 months, suspended for two years, 200 hours unpaid work.

Lee Coxshall (aged 34) – pleaded guilty to violent disorder and sentenced to 14 months, suspended for two years and ordered to do 200 hours unpaid work

On 29 September, the English Defence League had arranged for their supporters from around the country to assemble in Walsall for a demonstration. It is the right of anyone to hold a peaceful assembly and Article 10 of the European Commission for Human Rights provides the right for freedom of expression; however, on that day, the supporters of the EDL went far beyond freedom of expression or a peaceful assembly.

Fuelled by hate and alcohol, a section of the group, instigated by key figures within the demonstration, began to direct their anger towards the counter demonstration. As police then sought to contain the group, supporters of the EDL began throwing missiles.

Police officers were then exposed to some of the worst violence that they have been subjected to in a public order situation. Concrete slabs, bricks and a table leg were among some of the various items which were used as weapons and thrown at the officers.

Those engaged in such reprehensible conduct paid little regard to what they were doing or who they were attacking, as during their orgy of violence, a number of their own EDL stewards, as well as police officers, were seriously injured.

A year on from those violent scenes those responsible for their actions that day have been arrested, brought to justice and now they have to face the consequences for their actions.

– Robin Allen, Senior Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service

ITV News

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard trouble flared between the 600 EDL supporters and 200 members of the United Against Racism movement

A judge has slammed “mob violence” as he jailed seven men who took part in an English Defence League demonstration in Walsall.

They were the first of 32 people appearing for sentence after violent disorder hit the town centre last September, leaving police officers and demonstrators injured.

Wolverhampton Crown Court heard trouble flared between the 600 EDL supporters and 200 members of the United Against Racism movement, who were holding a counter demonstration.

Mr David Bennett, prosecuting, said police saw pages from the Koran being burnt along with a Pakistan flag while there were also abusive and racists chants from EDL supporters.

Placards were also being carried, with one reading “Our Walsall will not be part of Pakistan,” he said.

During the trouble a young Asian UAR member also made an ‘inflammatory gesture’ and EDL members surged towards police bidding to keep the protesters apart, the court was told.

The far-right group’s supporters pushed, punched and kicked out at officers who faced missiles including bricks, bottles, coins and wood broken from street furniture and tables in a nearby pub.

Judge Nicholas Webb said the violence lasted about an hour and it was fortunate no serious injuries were inflicted, with police largely protected by their riot shields.

All 32 men were charged after police scoured over 400 hours of CCTV footage of the trouble, which saw a small number of protesters and police officers sustaining minor cuts and bruises.

The seven men jailed all pleaded guilty to violent disorder.

Craig Forward, 38, of Neptune Street, Tipton, received 25 months; Myles Smith, 39, of Parkway Towers, Seacroft, Leeds, received 24 months; Mark Baker, 44 of Horseshoe Close, Pleck, Walsall was sent to prison for 21 months; Stephen Bennett, 23, of Milton Street, Palfrey, Walsall got 20 months; Kirk Reeves, 40, of Colliery Road, Swadlincote, received 18 months; Leslie Silk, 37, of Gatcombe Road, Bristol, was jailed for 15 months; and 30-year-old Peter Kirkham, of New Rowley Road, Dudley was jailed for 14 months.

The judge was told none of the seven men were involved in fighting with police officers, but they were threatening and aggressive.

The other 25 men will be sentenced tomorrow and later this week.

Birmingham Mail

walsall

Trouble flared at the EDL rally in Leicester Street on September 29 last year, while Unite Against Fascism held a separate event elsewhere in the town centre.

Hundreds of EDL supporters had been in the town and some stewards, EDL supporters and police officers suffered injuries when violence erupted.

Seven men appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday and each pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder.

Mark Baker, aged 43, of Horseshoe Close, Pleck, Walsall; Benjamin Banfield, 34, of Meg Thatchers Green, Saint George, Bristol; Dean Lidster, 44, of Hatfield Road, Stratford; and Craig Forward, aged 37, of Neptune Street, Tipton, stood together in the jury box as they delivered their pleas in front of Judge Michael Challinor.

Christopher Jelley, 27, of Broadway Close, Shrewsbury; Myles Smith, 39, of Parkway Towers, Leeds, and Leslie Silk, 36, of Gatcombe Road, Bristol, also appeared in a separate hearing.

Apart from entering their guilty pleas, the defendants only spoke to confirm their names, addresses and dates of birth during their appearances.

Their cases were adjourned for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Mr Stephen Cadwaladr, representing Baker, said his client had learning difficulties and was addicted to alcohol.

He said medical reports would also be prepared.

The defendants are each due to appear in front of a judge at Wolverhampton Crown Court in the coming months to be sentenced. They were all released on conditional bail.

The protest in the town centre caused shops and market stalls to close, and buses and taxis were suspended.

Police scoured CCTV footage and arrested a number of suspects thought to have been involved in the disorder.

Missiles including bricks and wooden panels were hurled at police, despite calls from the group’s leaders for calm.

Steel police cordons were set up in Bridge Street and Darwall Street, bringing parts of the town centre to a standstill.

The main bus station St Paul’s was also closed and buses were diverted, leaving some shoppers and visitors to the town stranded.

Chief Inspector Mike O’Hara said the trouble had been confined mostly to Leicester Street and the rest of the day had passed peacefully.

Express & Star