EDL members locked up for violent disorder

A 21-year-old Rochdale man and a 16-year-old youth from Stockport have been locked up by a judge for their part in disturbances involving English Defence League supporters at the Eureka Museum in Halifax.

Michael Kelly, of Sykes Court, Rochdale, and the teenager, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had travelled to West Yorkshire in July last year for an EDL demonstration in the car park of the popular family attraction. Bradford Crown Court heard that although it was a Saturday the museum itself was closed to the public and only some staff were on duty that afternoon.

Prosecutor David McGonigal told the court how the Unite Against Facism group were due to hold a counter demonstration about a mile away, but police became concerned about possible clashes when about 50 EDL supporters headed towards the King Cross Road area.

A bus was provided to take the EDL followers to the Eureka car park and Mr McGonigal said it was at about 1.30pm when between 200 and 300 EDL demonstrators broke through the fence at the museum and confronted a small number of police officers. Mr McGonigal said rocks and bottles were thrown towards officers who were in their normal uniforms and the crowd was shouting and gesticulating aggressively.

Staff inside the museum were frightened by the incident and some of the crowd made their way around to the side of the museum where industrial-size bins were overturned and damage caused to fencing.

Mr McGonigal said the demonstrators were eventually contained by officers in riot gear, police dogs and mounted police.

Kelly, who had earlier been filmed in Sowerby Bridge wearing a skull mask, was one of those who went through the broken fence into the museum grounds and Mr McGonigal alleged that at one stage he could be seen charging towards the police officers.

Kelly, who has a previous conviction for threatening behaviour at a football match, admitted violent disorder on the basis that he had no thrown anything at the police himself.

Kelly, who was arrested in December, said he was not a member of the EDL but had wanted to take part in a peaceful manner. He said he was part of the crowd and blamed the police for “hemming” them in at the car park. He said he wasn’t charging at the police, but simply trying to get out of the museum grounds.

Kelly was jailed for nine months by Judge Peter Benson who also imposed a two-year anti-social behaviour order on the defendant.

The 16-year-old, who also admitted violent disorder, was shown on CCTV footage kicking at the fence before it is broken down. At the time the youngster was wearing a scarf over his face. The teenager was sentenced to a six-month detention and training order and he was also made the subject of a two-year ASBO.

Halifax Courier, 28 September 2012