Five in court over EDL gathering

FIVE men have appeared in court following disturbances during a rally staged by the English Defence League.

About 1,300 people attended the EDL action in Hanley on January 23.

The group said it was staging the demonstration to protest against Muslim extremism.

A group of about 400 counter-protesters, rallied by anti-racism organisations, trade unions and Staffordshire University, held its own demonstration in the city centre at the same time. There were 600 police officers on duty, and 17 demonstrators were arrested as violence flared.

Six officers were injured, vans and cars damaged and taxi services were suspended.

Yesterday, Wayne Baldwin, aged 41, of the Crescent, Hockley, Birmingham, pleaded guilty to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour at Hanley Forest Park.

Ruth Belfield, prosecuting at North Staffordshire Magistrates’ Court, said the defendant was in a group of about 100 who broke away from a 300-strong group being policed at the park.

She said: “He was seen to gesture toward police officers and shouted abusive language. He says he regularly attends EDL meetings and generally remains peaceful.”

The defendant was fined £180 with £85 costs and £15 victim surcharge by Deputy District Judge Elizabeth Harte.

Baldwin told the court: “I am sorry for what some of the idiots did in Stoke-on-Trent and I want to apologise for what I said and apologise to the officer.”

Anthony Cook, aged 22, of Shelley Road, Reddish, Stockport, pleaded guilty to a charge of displaying some writing, sign or other visible representation which was racially aggravated.

The court heard that he was not a member of the EDL and had travelled down to Stoke-on-Trent with friends.

Mrs Belfield said the defendant had been seen by a police officer writing a word in condensation on a bus window which was visible to the public. He was fined £100 with £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

A not guilty plea was entered by Michael Gawthorpe, aged 18, of Crofters Way, Chester, who is accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent.

He was unconditionally bailed until March 15 when a trial will be fixed.

Christopher Harley, aged 24, of Bower Street, Reddish, Stockport, denied a charge of displaying some writing, sign or other visible representation which was racially aggravated. He was conditionally bailed until March 15 to fix a trial.

The Deputy District Judge declined to use her powers to deal with Mark Doel, aged 43, of Primrose Hill, Batley.

Doel is charged with offences of violent disorder and assaulting a police constable.

His case was adjourned until April 6 for committal to Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court and he was conditionally bailed.

This is Staffordshire

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