Seven right-wing thugs who attacked a Liverpool City Centre anti-fascist meeting were jailed after admitting charges of violent disorder.
The men, who were either members of or associated with groups including the National Front, the English Defence Force or North West Infidels punched and kicked people heading for a fundraising gig at the News From Nowhere Bookshop on July 6 last year.
CCTV footage shown to Liverpool Crown Court showed the men, led by 25-year-old Liam Pinkham, running across Bold Street and attacking a smaller group walking past the Cafe Tabac bar and restaurant.
The attackers, some of whom were wearing masks, punched and kicked their victims who were pursued into the Tabac where the violence continued, sending tables and chairs flying.
Anya Horwood, prosecuting, said: “It would appear that the motivation for this violent disorder was polarised political opinions and personal enmity. The attacking group shared right-wing beliefs and the victims anti-fascist.”
Witnesses described seeing the group hanging around outside the nearby Sainsbury’s store and thought they were about to raid it before they went to the Tabac and started “beating people.”
Those inside described three “punks” outnumbered two to one being beaten to the floor and one suffering a golf ball sized lump to his head.
Liam Pinkham, who was at the front of the attack having crossed the road to remonstrate with a man he had previous dealings with, was found a short time later cowering on top of a multi-story car park with another attacker Stephen Dumont, then aged just 16.
Matthew Coates, 22, was found on Roscoe Street with a mask and St George’s flag in his pocket and said: “OK you’ve got me” while Shane Calvert, 31, was found near Lime Street out of breath with bloody knuckles.
Pinkham, of Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead; Dumont, 18, of Rosewood Close, Netherley; Coates, of Albert Road, Southport; Michael Kearns, of Dovecote Avenue, Dovecote and Nathan Smith, 21, of North Road, St Helens, all pleaded guilty to violent disorder – though Smith failed to turn up to the hearing and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Two men from Blackburn Peter Hawley, of Ailsa Road, and Shane Calvert, 31, of Shetland Avenue, admitted the same charge.
Some of the men admitted being members of the English Defence League whereas others denied membership though they offered “frank” political opinions.
Judge Robert Trevor-Jones, said: “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.
“It is quite clear you all went there to Bold Street with the view to disrupting or preventing that meeting taking place even if you did not intend direct violence beforehand.
“Of course in such circumstances involving two groups holding diametrically opposed views there is a clear risk of confrontation as was shown by the CCTV in court.
“Although the violence was short lived it was in full view of passers-by, initially out on the street, and it spread into a nearby cafe causing chairs and tables to be overturned and glasses to be smashed. Calvert, Pinkham, Kearns and Smith were in the thick of it.”
He jailed Pinkham, who had previously threatened to burn down News From Nowhere while making abusive comments about Anne Frank, for 17 months.
Dumont was sent to a young offenders institution for a total of nine months after he was also found guilty at trial of public order offences after shouting racist taunts through a megaphone at a mosque in Ashton Under Lyne, Greater Manchester.
Coates was locked up for ten months; Michael Kearns, 39, for 14 months; Peter Hawley, 53, for 13 months, and Shane Calvert was given 14 months behind bars.
As they were led to the cells their supporters, who packed the public gallery, shouted: “No justice” and applauded them.
Update: See “Wirral man jailed for leading violent attack on anti-fascist meeting”, Wirral Globe, 27 September 2013
And “Final far-right thug jailed for beating up anti-fascist demonstrators”, Liverpool Echo, 27 September 2013