EDL protester starts jail term for affray

A man accused of launching a “flying kick” at a police officer while at the forefront of trouble at an EDL march in the Black Country was today behind bars.

Thomas Blackwell admitted a charge of affray during the EDL protest in Dudley on July 17 last year and was sentenced to one year in prison. A DVD shown at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday showed Blackwell, aged 25, of Bird Street, Lower Gornal, wearing a white stab vest in the front few rows of protesters at the march as they confronted police.

Judge Michael Challinor told him the DVD showed he had “clearly” been at the forefront of the violence which erupted in Stafford Street on the day. “You attended this demonstration with the intention of causing disorder and violence,” he said. “This is clear from the fact you were wearing protective clothing in the form of a stab vest. In the course of this disorder you tackled a police officer by using a flying kick to his protective shield.”

Judge Challinor said he had considered the fact that Blackwell would lose his job and as a result, his home if sent to prison but added: “This type of violent behaviour so often prevents law-abiding citizens from protesting peacefully.”

Mr Stephen Thomas, prosecuting, told the court Blackwell had been near the front of the group of EDL protesters who had thrown bottles and bits of metal at police, before launching the “flying kick” at a police officer’s riot shield and swearing at him.

Express & Star, 7 April 2011