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Four men jailed over a back lane attack which left an uncle and nephew fearing they would be killed were like “a marauding pack”.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the disturbance happened in the lane behind Peel Street, Hendon, and followed on from a demonstration in support of an alleged sex attack victim last September.

Sean Ruffell.

Sean Ruffell.

Two Asian men were drawn into the back lane by the sound of their cars being damaged, including a brick being thrown through a window, with repairs running to £1,100.

The court was told they could hear the word “dirty” being shouted underneath the shutters of a back yard, as well as comments relating to colour and Muslims.

A number of the eight men involved in the fight which broke out – which involved a garden fork and another tool – were wearing hi-vis jackets bearing the word “warden” on them which had been seen at the march.

Prosecutor Vince Ward described the men as a “splinter group” from the demonstration and added: “It’s clear from the context of this situation that this was a racially motivated attack.”

Witnesses told police they saw the men being kicked and punched, even when they were on the ground and clearly unconscious.

They were both taken to hospital by ambulance after police arrived on the scene. The uncle was left in need of stitches, with injuries to his head and right eye and bleeding from his gums and chin, while his nephew had a cut to the back of his head and forehead and injuries to his chest.

The uncle told officers: “I thought they were going to kill me” while his younger relative said: “I didn’t think anything like this could happen in England.”

Philip Hackers, 38, previously of D’Arcy Court, Hendon, and now of Oak Avenue, South Shields; Gary Hutchinson, 45, of Gilbert Court, Sunderland; Sean Ruffell, 26, of Athol Road, Hendon, and Darren Kerr, 26, of Gartland Avenue, Grindon, were each jailed for 27 months after they all pleaded guilty to affray.

Daren Kerr

Ruffell was jailed for a total of five years, with another four months given after he admitted possession of an offensive weapon – a knuckle duster found on him when he was arrested while he was involved in a fight in Mowbray Park in the aftermath of the demonstration – and 30 months for three counts of possession of drugs with intent to supply, dating back to a raid on his home in 2014.

Hutchinson faces another two months in jail for two shoplifting incidents from supermarkets while on bail for the affray.

Hackers also admitted possession of amphetamine on the day of the march, but faced no further punishment.

Recorder Nicholas Barker told the men: “After the demonstration it’s clear all four of you and four others decided on a course and were intent on finding trouble and that was the driver for distorted and prejudicial views towards Asian heritage.

Gary Hutchinson

“At this time you were a marauding pack.

“You were prepared or intent on meting out violence in any way that met your perverted ideas.”

The court heard alcohol had been consumed around the march, which had played a part in the outbreak of violence.

Ruffell’s ex-partner Jerri Butler, 27, of St Lucia Close, Hendon, who was not connected to the march in any way, was given 16 months imprisonment for possession of cocaine with intent to supply and 12 months in jail for possession of cannabis with intent to supply – the same charges as her former boyfriend – suspended for two years.

The court heard she had been working at a youth and community centre while the offending happened and had to leave her job as a result of the charges.

Phillip Hackers
Sunderland Echo

A mother and her small children were left terrified as yobs armed with a dog chain and knuckle duster staged a fight in a Sunderland park.

The mum was in Mowbray Park with her daughters, aged six and 13, and another girl, also 13, Sunderland magistrates heard.

All children were in the park’s play area, when the fight took place, at 4pm on Sunday, September 4, the court was told.

Prosecutor Laura Johnson said: “The witness was sitting on a bench in the park when she sees the defendants, Daren Kerr and Sean Ruffell, walking through the park.

“A third male shouts ‘you with the sunglasses’ then goes towards these two defendants.”

Ms Johnson said the third male, who is being dealt with separately, had mistaken Ruffell for somebody else.

However she said Kerr then shouted: “Come on, let’s have a fight.”

“Mr Kerr and the third male then squared up to each other and began to throw a number of punches,” Ms Johnson said.

“Mr Kerr produced a dog chain and started swinging it around in an aggressive manner.

“Mr Ruffell threw two punches at the third male, one missed and the other hit him on the head.

“The witness shouted ‘there’s kids around – grow up’.”

The court heard the trio stated that they would go and fight elsewhere as there were “too many bairns around”.

Ms Johnson said the witness then saw the third male on the ground with Ruffell alongside him.

Police then arrived and intervened. A knuckle duster was recovered from Ruffell.

Kerr was detained, having discarded the dog chain.

Ruffell, 25, told police he and the third male had been ‘dancing’ in a boxing stance.

“He was dancing around like Muhammad Ali,” he said.

Kerr, also 25, said the pair had gone for a drink in a bar and had decided to change their clothing, when they saw the third male in the park.

He asked them if they wanted to go for a drink, to which they said no as the pub would be full of ‘****heads’.

Kerr said the male shouted abuse and he took the dog chain from around his neck.

Ms Johnson said: “He said he had the chain because had been walking his dog earlier, however there were protests in the area and that had made the dog nervous and it had ran off.”

Kerr, of Gartland Road, Grindon, and Ruffell, of Athol Road, Hendon, both admitted possession of an offensive weapon and threatening unlawful violence.

Ruffell admitted the offence in relation to the knuckle duster and Kerr in relation to the dog chain.

Susan Gray, defending, said: “They had both been involved in an earlier incident, where a friend of theirs had been assaulted.

“They were in Mowbray Park when they were approached by the male, who was actually looking for a fight, and they responded.

“Mr Kerr had a dog lead with him

“Mr Ruffell had an ornamental knuckle duster. It had never been used as a weapon, it had been taken off the wall.”

The bench asked for an all-options report to be prepared by the Probation Service, including the possibility of custody.

The pair will be sentenced at South Tyneside Magistrates’ Court on March 24.

Sunderland Echo