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.
A Swindon man involved in a violent riot against police by the English Defence League has been jailed – but received a shorter sentence than the others because he has since quit the controversial far right group.
Thomas Flynn confronted police officers and forced them to push him away with riot shields during the disorder when EDL supporters from all over the country descended on Birmingham for a protest march through the city centre.
Sentencing of the eight men convicted of violent disorder was temporarily halted after one of them demanded to be updated on the Sydney café siege.
The judge, Richard Bond, adjourned the case after being verbally abused, urged to “pass proper sentences” on Islamic extremists, and asked: “Any news on the Australian hostages?”
Some of the defendants walked around the dock at Birmingham Crown Court during the outbursts, which also included chants of “No surrender to the Taliban.”
Judge Bond had already sentenced three of the men when one of them shouted “If there were proper sentences for extremists, the EDL wouldn’t be here” and another asked for news of events in Australia.
The judge then left the court-room for several minutes, before returning to continue to address the defendants and explain their sentences.
Jailing others for 18 months or two years, he gave Flynn, a 22-year-old from Grange Drive in Swindon, just 14 months after hearing that he now helped out at a respite centre and had since disassociated himself from the EDL.
Among the others in the dock over violent scenes at an EDL rally in Birmingham city centre was Otis Bloodworth, who attended the protest event in July 2013 wearing Union Jack boxing gloves and shorts.
CCTV footage played to the court showed Bloodworth, of Drummond Road, Skegness, Lincolnshire, punching a man who was being led away from the event by stewards.
The 35-year-old, who has 43 previous convictions dating back to 1997, was arrested and taken to a police station in March after an appeal for information on the BBC’s Crimewatch programme.
When questioned by officers as to whether he had any medical conditions, Bloodworth said he had ‘Islamophobia’ and refused to be represented by a Muslim solicitor.
Bloodworth was jailed for 18 months alongside Benjamin Crowder, who was celebrating his 21st birthday at the protest march.
Crowder, now 22, of Lumsdale Crescent, Matlock, Derbyshire, was given a two-year custodial sentence after footage was played to the court of him throwing an object at police.
Shane Williams, 27, of Birds Nest Avenue, Leicester, was jailed for two years. The court heard that he was seen chanting anti-Islamic slogans, hurled an empty soft drinks bottle at police, and was present at five of seven distinct sites of disorder at the protest.
Another defendant, Gareth Wall, 25, of Moresdale Lane, Leeds, used a metal pole to smash the window of a restaurant as thugs caused damage in the Regency Wharf area of Birmingham. He was jailed for 20 months after the judge told him he had shown no remorse for his “persistent” offending, which included kicking out at a police dog while goading the animal using a St George’s Cross flag.
During the EDL rally, a Muslim prayer cap and a Pakistani flag were set on fire in the street, while police were pelted with paving slabs and bottles. Around 200 EDL supporters were involved in the violence in the Broad Street and Centenary Square areas of Birmingham, which lasted for around two hours and left 30 officers injured.