Fifth man guilty over Birmingham riot blaze


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The Independent Online

A fifth man has been found guilty of rioting, reckless arson and firearms possession after police were "lured" to a pub fire and shot at during last summer's riots.

Jermaine Lewis, 27, of Summerton Road, Oldbury, West Midlands, was convicted by a jury at Birmingham Crown Court.

The trial heard that officers from West Midlands Police and the force helicopter were shot at following a petrol bomb attack at the Bartons Arms in Aston, Birmingham.

Last week, co-defendants Tyrone Laidley, 20, of Nechells, Birmingham; Nicholas Francis, 26, of Great Barr, Birmingham; Renardo Farrell, 20, of Finchfield, Wolverhampton and Wayne Collins, 25, of Ouseley Close, Luton, Bedfordshire, were found guilty of riot, arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered and possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.

A 17-year-old youth, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted of riot and firearms possession, but cleared of arson.

Jurors in the six-week trial were shown CCTV footage of a gunman - said by the prosecution to be Laidley - firing at the police helicopter as it tracked suspects during disturbances in the early hours of August 10.

Prosecutor Andrew Lockhart QC said the aircraft came under attack minutes after at least 12 shots were fired at officers called to the pub blaze.

Police were initially pelted with bricks, steel tubes and furniture before the shots were fired, the court heard.

Mr Lockhart said: "As many as four guns were present. Scientific evidence confirms that.

"Some of the officers describe bricks and chairs being thrown at them in that initial incident. Then they heard shots begin to ring out."

The Crown said police had been lured into the area by the pre-planned arson attack.

Two other defendants, Joyah Campbell, 19, of Hanover Court, Aston, Birmingham and a 17-year-old who cannot be named, were acquitted last week of riot, arson and firearms possession.

All five men and the 17-year-old who was convicted will be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court tomorrow.