Thursday, March 31, 2011

Asian youths sent on £2,000 jaunt to Blackpool to avoid clashes at Right-wing march jailed for car park fight

A group of Asian youths taken on a day-trip to Blackpool to avoid becoming embroiled violence at an EDL march ended up knocking a man unconscious in a car park brawl.

Five teenagers have been found guilty of their part in the incident in which a father-of-two was punched to the ground.

The five were part of a group of youths who were taken to on the trip on July 17 last year, the day of an English Defence League march in Dudley in the West Midlands.

The day-trip cost the public purse £2,113 and saw the group from the Tipton and Oldbury areas of the West Midands accompanied by a police officer and officials from the council.

The clash happened after the youths got off their coach and began chanting racist comments at Derek Brownhill, who had just got off a coach parked nearby.

The chants were heard by Mr Brownhill's pregnant partner and two young daughters, as well as a group of elderly people, the court was told In the ensuing confrontation Mr Brownhill was punched and hit with such force by Riad Hussain, 19, that both feet left the ground.

Wolverhampton Crown Court was told the blows left unconscious and with bruising and swelling to his face and head.

The group then punched Hussain, from Oldbury, in the face to give him a bruise so they could try to claim that his actions were in self defence.

Prosecutor David Swinnerton told the court that the teenagers - Hussain, Wasim Telhat, 18, Raja Rashid, 18, and two 17-year-olds - were part of a large group of Asian youths taken to Blackpool by coach on July 17 last year to avoid potential trouble.

At the time of the violence, two of the gang were on bail for a hammer attack in Tipton, West Midlands, that took place three months before the Blackpool incident.

On Tuesday Rashid was jailed for a total of 21 months and one 17-year-old for a total of 16 months for their part in the assault. Hussain was jailed for ten months.

Telhat was given a community supervision order and 50 hours of unpaid work while another 17-year-old received a 12-month rehabilitation order. Judge Amjad Nawaz told them: 'There is nothing more disturbing than to have to sentence a dock full of young people just past their childhood years having engaged in offences of such severity that custodial sentences are inevitable.'

Mr Swinnerton said the trip was organised by Sandwell Borough Council 'for the purpose of distracting them from anti-social behaviour on the day of the EDL march in Dudley'. The council said the trip to Blackpool had been organised with the support of police to help reduce tensions and deter teenagers who may have been at risk of getting involved in demonstrations in Dudley on the day.

The cost of the trip was met by the Government's Youth Justice Board. 'I would not say the trip had failed. Its purpose was to keep them away from the march.'If they got involved in something else in Blackpool, that's another matter.' Derrick Campbell,Race Equality Sandwell

It said although it had no plans to do anything similar in the future, it would have to consider removing young people from situations in an attempt to prevent them from getting into trouble.

Councillor Derek Rowley, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for safer neighbourhoods, said: 'Clearly, this was a very unfortunate incident which we totally condemn. 'We have a duty to foster good community relations and we will continue to work with local people and all our partner organisations towards that aim.'

Derrick Campbell, boss of Race Equality Sandwell, told the Sun: 'I would not say the trip had failed. Its purpose was to keep them away from the march. 'If they got involved in something else in Blackpool, that's another matter.'

In total, 19 youngsters went on the trip. Eight were aged 16 or over and 11 were under 16. In addition, there were five youth workers and one police officer, who went on a voluntary basis. Chief Superintendent Mark Robinson, commander for Sandwell Police, said: '

A decision was taken by Safer Sandwell Partnership to take a number of youths away from the area, who had been identified as having the potential to get involved in any disorder that could occur as a result of the demonstrations.

'Whilst we feel that the decision to try and prevent any potential violence among local youths was the right one, clearly the events that followed were hugely disappointing.

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