Twelve plead guilty over EDL disturbances in Brierfield

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TWELVE members of the English Defence League have pleaded guilty to their part in disturbances in Brierfield last summer.

Eleven men and one woman had been due to face trial at Preston Crown Court for various public order offences including provocation of violence, having an offensive weapon and threatening behaviour.

The “serious” case related to a street disturbance around the Colne Road area in Brierfield, during which a teenage boy was assaulted on July 2nd last year.

The court heard that at one stage a large group of Asian men, some of whom are to be later prosecuted, armed themselves to deal with what they perceived as a threat of violence.

During a hearing at Preston Crown Court twelve people from across East Lancashire entered guilty pleas to public order offences.

Four defendants pleaded guilty to a charge of racially aggravated fear or provocation of violence on July 2nd last year.

They were: Bernard Holmes (26) of Bolton Road, Blackburn; Leonard Hawley (47) of Worcester Road, Blackburn; David Wilson (47) of Devon Road, Blackburn and 43-year- old Jason Smith of Torquay Avenue, Burnley.

Another man, David Garrett (45) of Beckett Street, Darwen, pleaded guilty to an offence of having an offensive weapon - a chisel - on Colne Road, Brierfield, on that date.

Seven others entered not guilty pleas to a charge of violent disorder on July 2nd, but they all admitted a lesser offence of using threatening behaviour.

Those defendants were: Leanne Thornton (26) of Oak Avenue, Todmorden; Graham Smith (48) of Drapefield, Chorley; Paul Blundell (45) of Lee Street, Longridge, John English (24) of Shorrock Lane, Blackburn; Martin Corner (31) of Corporation Street, Chorley; Jordan Lonsdale (20) of Ribble Lane, Clitheroe and Paul Jackson (41) of Spring Bank Terrace, Blackburn.

All the pleas were accepted by the prosecution.

Mr David Temkin (prosecuting) told the court: “On any view, this is a serious case and has been taken very seriously by the Crown. The three investigating officers sit in court.

“The Crown have taken a pragmatic stance. It is of note that over a course of negotations, the Crown’s position was that it required admissions of guilt, to a greater or lesser extent, from everybody in the dock.”

Mr Temkin said some of the incidents in the case were captured on CCTV, but not all of them.

He added “There is a serious incident of violence on Castle Street, Brierfield, in which the Crown’s case is that a boy of late teenage years was assaulted by a group. That is not captured on close circuit television.

“The Crown cannot say exactly which defendants committed that assault and which may have been observing, lending support by their presence.”

The prosecution also said that within the civilian witness evidence there was some inconsistency and some degree of embellishment which would have created insurmountable difficulties on the question of joint enterprise.

Mr Temkin added: “The police and the Crown take the view this is a realistic and pragmatic resolution in the case where everybody in the dock admits some form of wrong-doing, which reflects the seriousness of the case and adequate sentencing powers”.

The case has been adjourned for sentencing to take place on Friday, May 25th.

All 12 were remanded on bail to that date. One of them, Bernard Holmes, had been in custody since his arrest last July.

His barrister, Mr Jeremy Lasker, said his client had served 43 weeks on remand. The maximum sentence for his offence was two years jail.

The barrister applied for bail, which was granted by Judge Norman Wright, who said he had not made up his mind about what the right sentence would be.

Pre-sentence reports will be compiled on the defendants by the probation service in the mean time.