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Michale Kearns was jailed for Bold Street attack on anti-fascists

Michael Kearns, 43 of Dovecot Ave, Dovecot

Michael Kearns, 43 of Dovecot Ave, Dovecot

A Liverpool man jailed this week over a £5m drugs plot has links to the same extremist group involved in violent scenes on the steps of St George’s Hall.

Michael Kearns was part of a right-wing gang that caused a mass brawl in Liverpool city centre when they attacked anti-fascists in 2013.

After serving time for his role in that skirmish he is now back behind bars after cops busted the drugs operation he was part of.

Kearns, 43, was one of 13 men sentenced to a total of more than 60 years on Thursday for their involvement in cocaine and amphetamine plots.

Liverpool Crown Court heard the drugs gang used ‘apparently harmless’ middle-aged people driving cars and caravans to try and avoid the attention of cops.

Kearns was caught with others members of the group with 227g of 83 per cent pure cocaine while travelling on the M6.

He was jailed for five years and four months.

Now, the ECHO can reveal the 43-year-old was among a group of far-right activists that targeted anti-fascist rivals in a violent attack on Bold Street back in 2013.

Shoppers watched in horror as the men punched and kicked people heading for a fundraising gig at the News From Nowhere Bookshop.

The trouble then spilled into Cafe Tabac, with CCTV of the brawl showing diners being forced to flee the trouble.

Kearns, of Dovecot Avenue, was described as being ‘in the thick’ of the violence by Judge Robert Trevor-Jones.

Then – handing him 14 months for violent disorder as he sentenced the group – the judge added: “All of you were either members of, or have associations with, groups which happen to hold right-wing views or positions whether it be the National Front, English Defence Force or North West Infidels.

“It is that common factor which brought you all together on Bold Street that evening because you had been made aware there was to be some form of anti-fascist meeting.”

The North West Infidels were the extremist group behind last month’s Liverpool city centre rally that saw trouble flare between the right-wing gang and anti-fascist rivals.

While Kearns is thought to have been in custody during February’s demonstration, it is believed Blackburn-based Shane Calvert was among those who took part.

The 34-year-old was jailed alongside Kearns for violent disorder in relation to the Bold Street incident.

Liverpool Echo

Thirteen people involved in cocaine and amphetamine plots jailed for more than 60 years

A £5m drugs gang used “apparently harmless” middle-aged people driving cars and caravans to try and avoid the attention of cops.

Thirteen people involved in cocaine and amphetamine plots were today jailed for more than 60 years at Liverpool Crown Court.

Judge Alan Conrad, QC, said the gang’s three conspiracies were “marked by their professionalism and careful organisation”.

He said: “Legitimate businesses were used as cover. Taxis were used. Vans were acquired and liveried to appear legitimate.

“Cars and caravans were used – driven by apparently harmless middle-aged people in order to avoid attention.

“As and when drugs were seized this was treated simply as a risk of the enterprise and the operation continued, with the methods used changing.”

The North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (TITAN) investigated the gang’s activities between February 2014 and June 2015 as part of Operation Pitscale.

Simon Berkson, prosecuting, said 47-year-old Paul Berry – who co-owned an internet tickets and events company in Manchester – was the ringleader.

Berry’s “right hand man” Stephen Reeves, 48, used his furniture business Skemersdale Furnishings as a cover to transport drugs.

Kenneth Pritchard, 67, used his BMW to “transport box loads of drugs” and allowed his caravan, kept in a timber yard in Burscough, to be used to store cocaine.

Dean Stephen, 36, was provided with a van “disguised with a false logo” to transport significant amounts of drugs, which he also stored at his home.

The court heard Lee Tarry, 33, was stopped by police travelling from Skelmersdale to Glasgow in a taxi on February 14, 2014.

Hidden inside a bed – identical to those sold by Reeves’ furniture firm – was 3kg of 60-70% pure cocaine, valued at £720,000.

On June 16, 2014, a dog walker found 45kg of amphetamine, valued up to £900,000, in rural Meadow Lane, Ormskirk.

Peter Linford, 58, had hired a van, collected the haul and “stashed it in a hedge overnight”, but was caught when he returned to collect the drugs.

Reeves and Linford also disguised a Ford Connect van with the logo ‘Auto Valet Direct’ before it was given to Stephen.

Officers seized 51kg of amphetamine from this van and Stephen’s home, valued at £514,000, on October 9.

Police stopped drugs courier Warren Bennett, 36, who was driving a tipper truck in Litherland , on December 8.

They asked him to move a heavy bag, which he initially said contained tools, before shouting: “I’m f***ed, I’m f***ed!”

When asked what he meant, the defendant replied “It’s full of whizz”, revealing 46kg of amphetamine, valued at up to £456,000.

After months of observing Pritchard, police stopped his BMW X5 on February 12, 2015.

Officers recovered 68kg of amphetamine from the car and 2kg of “import quality” cocaine – secreted in a void in a cupboard – from his caravan.

On March 7 they caught Darren Highfield, 44, transporting 18kg of amphetamine to Sheffield to the homes of Dimitri Wright, 40, and Ryan Vintin, 38.A

nd on April 21, 227g of 83% pure cocaine was found in a car containing Stephen Higgs, 32, Micheal Kairns, 43, and Anoushka Lindsay, 40, on the M6.

The gang all pleaded guilty to their involvement in respective conspiracies, with Berry and Reeves admitting all three charges.

Berry, of Abbey Walk, Preston, who was on licence for a previous cocaine plot, was jailed for 11 years.

Reeves, of Charnock, Skelmersdale, who had no previous convictions, was jailed for nine years.

Linford, of Groveside, Edge Hill, was sentenced to four and a half years.

Pritchard, of Manor Crescent, Burscough, and Kearns, of Dovecot Avenue, Huyton, were both handed five years and four months.

Wright, of The Meads, and Vintin, of Luna Croft, both in Sheffield, were jailed for three years and eight months and three years and four months respectively.

Tarry, of Cherrycroft, Skelmersdale was jailed for five years, and Higgs, of Wadeson Road, Walton, for three years.

Stephen, of Egerton, Skelmersdale, was handed an extra 12 months on top of an existing three-year sentence.

Bennett, of no fixed abode but from Preston, had one month added to an existing three year and four months term.

Couriers Martin Cleary, 37, of Shaw Lane, Prescot, and Highfield, of Hollybank Way, Sheffield, received two years behind bars.

Lindsay, of Molyneux Road, Kensington, will be sentenced on March 24.

Liverpool Echo

The far-right supporter jailed in this story is Michael “Mayo” Kearns. He was also jailed for violent disorder after attacking a group of anti-fascists with the North West infidels. You can read that report here

Mosque protest

Mosque protest

A PROTESTER has been convicted of shouting racist abuse from the top of a bus leaving a demonstration against a planned new mosque in Astley Bridge.

Shaun Jones had been at a demonstration led by the North West Infidels at the site of the proposed mosque in Blackburn Road on on Saturday, August 2, last year.

After the protest, Jones was seen to racially abuse a group of Asian men after poking his head through the roof of the bus and gesticulating at the crowd.

Jones left but police circulated his description and he was promptly arrested.

The 34-year-old, of Cromwell Road, Eccles, pleaded guilty to the charge at Bolton Magistrates Court.

He was conditionally discharged for three years and ordered to pay £415 costs.

Jones had previously denied the charges but changed his plea, with the period of his conditional discharge rising from two to three years because it was racially aggravated.

Ch Supt Shaun Donnellan said: “There is no place for any type of racist behaviour, especially those individuals who use the guise of a peaceful protest as a way of verbally attacking our community.

“Any reports made to police will be thoroughly investigated and positive action will be taken.”

Dozens of protestors attended the rally organised by the far right group the North West Infidels.

It was the second large-scale demonstration at the site of the application made by Taiyabah Islamic Centre, with dozens of police officers deployed to control the protests.

Hundreds of members of the local community also took to the streets.

Plans were approved by Bolton Council in July at a meeting which was disrupted by angry protesters from campaigners when the decision was made.

Councillors had to be escorted from the Festival Hall at Bolton Town Hall while the protesters were escorted out.

Cllr Guy Harkin, who represents Crompton ward, said: “Some of the behaviour at the protests was obscene and disgusting.

“I am very pleased that there has been a conviction and regret that there have not been more, although I understand that the police have to keep the peace and it is very difficult to gather evidence in this sort of melee.”

The plot of land just off Canning Street has been earmarked for a mosque, complete with a dome, minaret tower and 19 classrooms.

Those behind the proposals say the new building will bridge the gap between “negative perceptions” of Islam and the faith’s true meaning.
Bolton News

Shaun Jones, 19, of Haydn Road, West Derby, jailed for nine years for sex attacks on girl, 12,

Shaun Jones, 19, of Haydn Road, West Derby, jailed for nine years for sex attacks on girl, 12,

A Merseyside army cadet sergeant who groomed, exploited and raped a vulnerable 12-year-old schoolgirl was today jailed for nine years.

Predator Shaun Jones manipulated and humiliated his child victim as he carried out a string of vile sex attacks when he was aged 17.

Jones, of Haydn Road, West Derby, was today locked up on his 19th birthday after admitting a raft of 20 sex offence charges.

Liverpool Crown Court heard how Jones’s victim became “infatuated” and “obsessed” after he put her “under his spell”.

Judge David Aubrey, QC, said: “You took away her innocence, you took away her childhood, you took away her virginity.

“You sexually assaulted her in a variety of different ways over a period of time.

“I am quite satisfied that you were manipulating her and were doing so for your own sexual gratification.”

The court heard how Jones made the girl perform sex acts upon him, raped her, and indecently attacked the youngster in public.

He also demanded the girl send x-rated images and video of herself, and sent explicit ones in return.

The youngster told police that Jones had made her “fall in love” with him, even though she “didn’t want to be”.

She told officers: “I knew it wasn’t right. I knew I shouldn’t be doing it but I became obsessed with him.”

The girl also said she blamed herself and believed what happened to her was her own fault.

But Judge Aubrey said: “She was wrong about that. It wasn’t her fault at all.

“It was yours, in consequence of your grooming, your exploitation.

“That observation by her illustrates the psychological harm and the scars you have left.

“She was the victim, you were the perpetrator.”

The court heard that the girl was undergoing counselling and had become withdrawn, often locking herself in her bedroom.

Judge Aubrey said she had suffered “everlasting and permanent” damage.

Robert Wyn Jones, defending, said Jones was remorseful and had tried to take his life while on remand in prison.

He said his client had “excelled” while in the cadets.

Mr Wyn Jones said: “He tells me there have been suicide attempts while at Altcourse, so to a degree he is a vulnerable young man.

“But I can’t press that too far because he initiated the relationship and persisted in it.

“He has asked me to apologise on his behalf.”

Jones was also indefinitely banned from associating with children and changing his name under the terms of a sexual harm prevention order.

Liverpool Echo

Jones was part of the Liverpool Scouse Nationalists, one of the various splinter groups. Thanks to the North West Infidels for bringing it to our attention.

SJ 1

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Five people were found guilty of a public order offence after a controversial Irish and trade unionist march through Liverpool city centre.

The four men and one woman had all denied the charge when they appeared before District Judge Richard Clancy at Liverpool magistrates’ court.

But after a two-day trial, Mr Clancy found Paul Harrison, 31, of Windbourne Road, Aigburth ; Jason Aspinall, 41, of Cherry Lane, Walton ; Jonathan Halvorsen, 22, of Wentworth Drive, Everton ; and married couple Margaret Anders, 24, and Paul Anders, 26, of Northumberland Street, Toxteth , guilty of the charge.

They were arrested after failing to comply with a notice which required counter-protesters at the James Larkin march last July to assemble in a designated spot away from the route of the parade.

Demonstrators were told at the start of the march that they would be liable for arrest if they protested during the procession, which in previous years had been marred by scenes of public disorder.

All five of the accused were warned by officers on separate occasions during the course of the march, culminating in their arrest as it made its way along Hanover Street and The Strand.

In the case of Harrison, Aspinall, and Halvorsen, they were “chanting and gesticulating” towards the marchers in Hanover Street.

Paul and Margaret Anders, meanwhile, shouted abuse towards the parade as it made its way along The Strand.

The James Larkin march has attracted controversy from some factions who claim it is a front for Irish republicanism.

Mr Clancy said in his summing-up: “Clearly there are some feelings in this matter. You weren’t happy with the situation and you wanted to protest.

“People have the right to protest, but it has to be peaceful. We are dealing with a potential disorder situation.”

After a means assessment was carried out, Harrison and Halvorsen were each fined £100 for the offence, while Aspinall, Margaret and Paul Anders were each fined £75.

They were also ordered to pay prosecution costs.

Chief Superintendent Jon Ward, Area Commander for Liverpool North, said: “Merseyside Police is committed to ensuring that people have the right to conduct legitimate marches in the city without fear of interference, or prejudice.

“In the past marches by some groups have attracted interest from opposition groups intent on causing problems and disrupting peaceful marches through the city through the use of intimidation.

“When the Larkin March took place earlier this year we were determined to ensure that the event would take place without incident and invested significant resources in to policing the march. The force used the Section 14 powers for the first time to prevent any problems and as a result a number of people who refused to adhere to the conditions were arrested and charged.

“The sentencing at court today supports the actions taken by Merseyside Police on the day of the march and hopefully sends out a strong message for similar marches in the future.”

Liverpool Echo

Nathan Smith

Nathan Smith

The final man out of a group of seven far right sympathisers who beat up anti-fascist demonstrators in Liverpool was jailed after failing to turn up at his original hearing.

Nathan Smith, 21, was jailed for 14 months after admitting violent disorder and given an extra month for breaching his bail conditions.

On Thursday six men, said to be members or sympathisers of far right groups including the British National Party (BNP), were jailed for between nine and 17 months after they attacked a group of people headed for a benefit gig at News From Nowhere on Bold Street in July 2012.

Smith, of North Road, St Helens, failed to attend and a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Police picked him up at his home later that evening.

Patrick McLoughlin, defending, told the court that he had got his dates mixed up despite his mum being present at court on the right day.

He said Smith, an almost-qualified central heating engineer, originally from Huyton, had found his life going in a “reverse direction” after his parents split up and found support in the “family of the BNP”.

Smith was one of the men in the thick of the fighting which crashed into cafe Tabac on Bold Street on July 6 last year and was caught on camera punching and kicking at least two victims, one of whom was on the floor.

Judge Robert Trevor Jones, said: “The violence that was accepted yesterday when I sentenced your co-accused was unplanned but of course it was always going to be a volatile situation with a confrontation between two groups with opposing views.”

He added that Smith was “fairly and squarely” involved in the fighting.

Liverpool Echo

Liam Pinkham, Shane Calvert, The unnamed 17 year old, Peter Hawley

Liam Pinkham, Shane Calvert, The unnamed 17 year old, Peter Hawley

Six far-right sympathisers who ambushed people going to an anti-fascist benefit gig in front of shocked city centre onlookers have today been jailed.

The men pleaded guilty to violent disorder following an incident in Liverpool city centre on 6 July 2012.

Liam Pinkham, 35, from Birkenhead, was sentenced to 17 months in prison.

Michael Kearns 41, from Liverpool, was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Matthew Coates, 22, from Southport, was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Peter Hawley, 53, from Blackburn, was sentenced to 13 months in prison.

Shane Calvert, 32, from Blackburn, was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

Stephen Dumont, 18, from Netherley, has been sentenced to 5 months detention in a Youth Offenders’ Institution for this offence and a further 4 months for an offence of racially aggravated assault.

Nathan Smith had pleaded guilty to violent disorder at an earlier hearing but failed to turn up to court today and a bench warrant has now been issued for him.

During the case, the court heard that the men shared right wing views and had meant to disrupt an anti-fascist group benefit gig at the News from Nowhere bookshop in Bold Street in Liverpool city centre on 6 July 2012.

However, Anya Horwood, Senior Crown Advocate for CPS Mersey- Cheshire, said in court: “While this may have been the backdrop, what actually happened was a wanton act of public disorder which resulted in real fear, injury and damage.”

The defendants attacked members of the anti-fascist group as they walked up Bold Street and in the Tabac bar and cafe, which is near to the News from Nowhere bookshop, shortly before the benefit gig was due to begin.

Anya Horwood said: “This was an entirely unprovoked attack by the defendants and others. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries.”

After the sentences were handed out, Helen Morris, Senior Crown Prosecutor with the Crown Prosecution Service, Mersey- Cheshire, said: “The violence used by the defendants on that day caused real fear among the ordinary members of the public who just happened to have the misfortune to be in the area.

“They launched an unprovoked assault on their victims in a public place and were reckless as to the effect of that on anyone around them. These offences are serious and that’s reflected in the sentences imposed by the Court.”

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