Bradford group is locked up for violence after EDL Cleckheaton march

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Crime Reporter

Six Bradford men who took part in “sustained, unprovoked racist violence” after attending a demonstration by the far-Right English Defence League, have been locked up, and banned from any EDL gathering.

Judge Scott Wolstenholme told the group they had caused fear, not only to the targets of their abuse, but passers-by.

He told them: “The court would be failing in its duty to the public to pass anything other than immediate effective custodial sentences.”

Sentencing at Leeds Crown Court, Judge Wolstenholme described what happened as “ugly and racist disorder”.

After the case, Detective Inspector Andy Leonard said he hoped the sentences would “serve as a warning to those who think it is acceptable to abuse people because of the colour of their skin or their religious beliefs”.

Kevin Docherty, 39, of Grisedale Court, Great Horton, was jailed for 14 months; David Lawler, 30, of Central Avenue, Shipley, was given a 13-month jail sentence; Robert Collington, 27, of Bedivere Road, Lower Grange, and Mark Peel, 34, of Bolton Hall Road, were imprisoned for 12 months; and Ben Phelps, 19, of Meadway, Woodside, was given ten months’ youth custody.

All pleaded guilty to violent disorder. Collington also admitted causing racially aggravated fear of violence and Docherty admitted racially-aggravated criminal damage.

Stephen Woodhead, 33, of Heysham Drive, Holme Wood, pleaded guilty to racially-aggravated common assault and was jailed for four months.

Bradley Allsop, 17, of Eskine Parade, Woodside, also admitted violent disorder. He was given a 12-month youth rehabilitation order, with supervision and 120 hours’ unpaid community work. The judge lifted reporting restrictions, allowing Allsop to be named, saying: “I am satisfied it is in the interests of justice that the press should be able to name you as a participant in this ugly and racist disorder.”

The defendants joined an EDL demonstration in Cleckheaton, on March 17 last year. It was rowdy and offensive, but no criminal offences were committed, the judge said.

The group caught a bus to Heckmondwike where they targeted a man “for no other reason than he was of Asian appearance”. He was followed and took refuge in a travel agency. Staff locked the doors to protect those inside. The glass door was kicked and damaged.

Judge Wolstenholme said the “loutish” behaviour continued on a bus to Dewsbury, with the group banging on windows and shouting at Asian people.

In Dewsbury, an Asian man was punched in the face, and two women in Asian dress were confronted and insulted.

Threatening and racist language was used by Collington at two Asian men in a car. Woodhead spat at the passenger and Docherty threw a beer glass at the car, damaging a windscreen wiper.

The group then targeted a man called Arif Hanif who was minding his own business. He was chased and subjected to a sustained attack, with punches and kicks to the head and body. He suffered cuts and bruises.

Judge Wolstenholme said the group then appeared to congratulate each other on the violence.

The judge added: “I make it clear I am satisfied that your participation in violent disorder, arising out of your presence at a demonstration organised by the English Defence League, makes it necessary to protect the public from further anti-social acts by you.”

He made anti-social behaviour orders against each defendant, prohibiting them from participating in any demonstration, public meeting or gathering of the EDL in England and Wales for five years.

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