Gang from 'lawless estate' left officer with brain damage

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The Independent Online
TEN MEMBERS of a gang who almost killed a traffic policeman when they threw a brick through the windscreen of a patrol car were yesterday jailed for a total of 57 years.

The gang was playing a game they called 'brick the squaddie' when PC John Robinson, 38, suffered horrific head injuries from a missile which pierced the glass 'like a speeding bullet'.

The officer's life was saved only because his colleague, PC Mick Mohon, 31, reached a hospital intensive care unit within two minutes.

The attack ended the careers of both officers - PC Robinson suffered brain damage, and his partner never recovered from the stress of the incident in February last year.

The four gang leaders were jailed for nine years and four others for five years each after admitting charges of plotting to damage police cars or cause danger to road users. Two juveniles were sent to young offender institutions for nine months and 11 months.

The four-week trial at Newcastle Crown Court was told how the ringleader, Anthony Christie, 21, shouted 'bullseye' as his half-brick - one of nine the gang had stockpiled - hit the car.

Judge Helen Paling said the 'game' had been widespread on the Pennywell Estate in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, where there was 'a real problem of complete lawlessness'.

The judge paid tribute to the bravery of witnesses who had ignored the intimidation of being abused in the street and having windows broken by bricks and air rifle pellets.

'What has been noticeable in this court has been the aura of fear throughout proceedings,' she said.

'It could have sabotaged the trial completely so far as the ringleaders were concerned but some of the witnesses were true and that took real courage.'

One man, 29-year-old James Montgomery - a cousin of Christie - refused even to take the oath in court and was jailed for 21 months for contempt.

Another man who shouted 'grass' from the public gallery during the trial was sent down for eight weeks for contempt.

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