Birmingham riot gang jailed for shooting at police


Five men and a teenage boy were today given lengthy jail terms for a
"concerted attack on the police" in which officers and a force
helicopter were shot at during last summer's riots.

A judge said it was only luck that nobody was struck by bullets in the disorder and described the potential consequences of the police helicopter being brought down by gunfire as "catastrophic".

Police said they could have been dealing with a murder inquiry.

Jermaine Lewis, 27, Nicholas Francis, 26, Wayne Collins, 25, and Renardo Farrell and Tyrone Laidley, both 20, were part of a gang that petrol bombed a Birmingham pub in a ploy to lure police to the scene. All five were convicted of possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life, reckless arson and riot. Amirul Rehman, 17, was convicted of riot and possession of a firearm. A six-week trial heard that the defendants were part of a group of 41 men - mostly masked and wearing hoods - who were rioting outside The Bartons Arms in Aston on the evening of August 9.

The landmark pub was broken into, ransacked and set ablaze, while four members of staff were in living quarters upstairs.

A specialist police unit of around 30 unarmed officers deployed to the scene was pelted with missiles before at least 12 shots were fired.

Dramatic CCTV footage released by police shows a large group of men - some armed with baseball bats - gathered outside the pub throwing things into the road, and smashing windows. One man - said by the prosecution to be Laidley - can be seen taking aim at the police helicopter with a handgun.

Police said the helicopter, which was sent to film the disorder and support officers on the ground, appeared to be shot at twice.

Sentencing at Birmingham Crown Court, Judge William Davis QC said: "Members of the group attacked the building. They smashed windows, they went inside and ransacked the premises. They threw chairs and tables out on to the pavement.

"Other members of the group stayed on the pavement outside the building. Some threw missiles, bottles and the like, at a passing police car.

"Others lit petrol bombs that had been brought to the scene.

"The purpose of all this was not to loot or to steal. Nor was it mindless vandalism. The purpose, the common purpose, was to behave in such a way that the police would come to the scene and then to attack the police."

He added: "The intention was to endanger life. Although no physical injury was suffered, that was wholly a matter of luck. Had the police helicopter been struck, the consequences could have been catastrophic.

"There may have been no physical injury to a police officer, but the damage to the wellbeing of the city of Birmingham caused by an armed gang prepared to act in this way was grave.

"It is very difficult to conceive a case of this type more serious than this one."

Francis, from Great Barr, Birmingham, was described by the judge as "clearly a dangerous man" and jailed for 30 years.

Lewis of Summerton Road, Oldbury, West Midlands, and Laidley of Nechells, Birmingham, were each sentenced to 23 years. Farrell, of Finchfield, Wolverhampton and Collins, of Ouseley Close, Luton, Bedfordshire, were both jailed for 18 years. Rehman was jailed for 12 years.

The judge said the five defendants who were convicted of arson were "completely indifferent" to the risk to the staff still in the building.

He said: "All they were interested in was luring the police to the area.

"The fact that members of staff looking on helplessly upstairs were put in real fear and no little danger meant nothing to them."

West Midlands Police Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Cann said the defendants displayed "an extraordinary degree of criminality and malice towards officers", adding that he was "very pleased" with the sentences.

""This could easily have been a murder inquiry. Officers came close to being shot and, in a worst-case scenario, the helicopter could have been brought down.

"Thankfully officers were not injured but we can't underestimate the impact it's had on those involved.

"We would like to pay tribute to those operational support officers deployed on that night who were faced with armed offenders, as well as the crew in the force's helicopter who obtained vital footage for the investigation."


ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench appeared at the Hay Festival to perform excerpts from Shakespearean plays
tvJudi Dench and Hugh Bonneville join Benedict Cumberbatch in BBC Shakespeare adaptations
Is this how Mario Balotelli will cruise into Liverpool?
Ronahi Serhat, a PKK fighter, in the Qandil Mountains in Iraqi Kurdistan
Arts and Entertainment
Poet’s corner: Philip Larkin at the venetian window of his home in 1958
booksOr caring, playful man who lived for others? A new book has the answer
Arts and Entertainment
Exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Metz - 23 May 2012
Matthew McConaughey and his son Levi at the game between the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on August 17, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.
advertisingOscar-winner’s Lincoln deal is latest in a lucrative ad production line
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention