Saturday 27 March 2010

Luton EDL In Court - Part Two - Man jailed for racially aggravated assault

A Luton man, who carried out a racially aggravated assault when a mob went on the rampage in Luton in May last year, has been sentenced to 16 months imprisonment today, March 26, at Luton Crown Court.

Kier McElroy, 19, of Langford Drive, attacked a young Asian man in a shop doorway in Chapel Street, hitting him across the head with a placard he was holding.

On March 5, a jury at Luton Crown Court, found McElroy guilty of racially aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm on a Luton student.

He had earlier admitted assaulting the student occasioning him actual bodily harm and a second charge of affray, which resulted from his actions that day

Luton EDL in Court - Part One

Justice was meted out to four of English Defence League supporters on 19th January after two violent disturbances held in Luton in response to the protest made by anti-war demonstrators at the Luton homecoming parade by the Royal Anglian Regiment on March 10th 2009. Richard Myers (21,) Tony Griffiths (27,) Simon Hattle (21,) - all from Luton - and James Butler (18) from West Sussex. All three had already pleaded guilty to affray and were sentenced for between four and seven months in jail. Their offences took place at a protest against Islamic extremism on March 24th which quickly descended into violence. In scenes of great confusion, a small orderly protest by "March for England" was hi-jacked by supporters of "United People of Luton" - an early prototype for the English Defence League. As the Luton News put it (Jan 21st) "groups of yobs, many draped in the flag of St. George, wearing balaclavas and shirts bearing the Luton Town Football Club logo, went on the rampage, fighting battles with the 200 hundred police who were drafted in from across 3 forces."
Richard Newcombe of Bedfordshire Crown Prosecution Service said "CCTV footage clearly showed the men displaying violent behaviour towards others, by kicking out at bystanders and goading police officers. It was part of the prosecution case that some of the defendants deliberately directed part of their violent behaviour towards Asian bystanders."

Three other men who pleaded guilty to the same charge Luke Allsop (28,) Robert Rowe (18,) and Daniel Schreiber (24,) will reappear before Luton Magistrates Court on February 4th for sentencing after having their case adjourned. Another man, Kier McElroy is due to stand trial for racially aggravated actual bodily harm on a date yet to be fixed. McElroy is accused of fly-kicking the Sikh Mayor of Luton, Lakhbir Singh, on the day of the Royal Anglian Regiment march.
The same event as lead to a further two Luton men appearing at Luton Magistrate's Court on Friday 22nd January.Brian Kelso, of Chapel Street, Luton, and Carroll, of Bollingbroke Road, Luton, pleaded not guilty at Luton Magistrates' Court to using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress. Both men were part of a hostile crowd who confronted the Muslim protesters and told them to "f*** off", prosecutor Avirup Chaudhuri said. They also sung a song with the words "Bin Laden's mother is a whore", he told the court. Kelso, a father who had wanted to join the army himself, told the Muslims to "get out of my f****** country" and made obscene gestures, Mr Chaudhuri said. He can be seen on CCTV footage approaching the protesters aggressively and having to be pushed back by the police, he added. Carroll called the Muslims "scum" and "w******", he said, and could be seen on CCTV footage shouting and gesticulating at them. Mr Chaudhuri said: "The two men were in the vanguard of the hostile crowd." Both men accepted that the language they had used was abusive. Father-of-one Carroll, a carpenter, told the court he was "extremely angry and outraged" at the Muslims' protest against the British army. He was not a member of the National Front and was not a racist, he said in his police interview. The trial was adjourned to 5 March and both men were released on bail.

Carroll worded his statement about party affiliation very carefully. True, he has never shown signs of National Front affiliation, but he has been an enthusiastic BNP supporter, living on the same estate as Luton BNP organiser Peter Fehr. He is well-known to local anti-fascists and was only dissuaded from standing as a candidate in the 2007 Luton Council elections by a last-minute plea from his partner, Mary Stevenson. He did, however, sign nomination papers along with Stevenson for the BNP candidate for Farley in that election - Robert Sheddock - and in doing so shows his political colours.
In response to this plethora of unwelcome news stories, Luton Borough Council have launched a new campaign to improve community cohesion in the town - Luton in Harmony. The campaign hopes to reach out to the whole community and build a positive reputation for the town by celebrating its diversity.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Anti-BNP campaigners rally opposition in St Albans tonight

"ANTI-BNP activists will meet in St Albans this evening to mobilise opposition against the controversial far right political party ahead of the impending General Election.

Three Counties Unite Against Fascism will hold the meeting at Fleetville Community Centre in Royal Road from 7.30pm.

Anti-fascist campaigner John Berry said: "It's a planning meeting for people to discuss how we may react in St Albans if there are BNP candidates in the forthcoming election. As yet we have no indication that there will be, but if it is the case then they can expect to have fairly vigorous opposition."

The meeting in St Albans coincides with today's Dacorum Borough Council by election in which the BNP are fielding a candidate."

St Albans and Harpenden Review, 11th March 2010

Sunday 7 March 2010

Three Counties Activists Leaflet Adeyfield West Ward

Janet Price is standing in a bye-election for the BNP in Adeyfield West ward, Hemel Hempstead on March 11th. On a lovely morning, a great turnout of 18 people delivered over 1,000 anti-fascist leaflets in under the hour - very many thanks to all involved, including those of you who couldn't make it on this occasion but sent apologies.

Thanks, too, to local Labour and Lib Dem members who provided us with useful advice and information - very much appreciated.

Kelso and Carroll Convicted of Racial Abuse

Two men who shouted "scum, scum, scum" at Muslim protesters during a soldiers' homecoming parade have been convicted of committing a public order offence.

Bryan Kelso, 27, of Hartley Road, and Kevin Carroll, 40, of Bollingbroke Road, both in Luton, both denied committing the offence in March 2009.

Magistrates in the town convicted the men following a trial.

They both received a nine-month conditional discharge and were ordered to pay costs of £175 each.

The men had denied using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress on 10 March.

Hand gestures

The court had heard they were among a crowd of "25 to 30 hardcore protestors" shouting at Muslim demonstrators during a parade of the Royal Anglian Regiment.

Insp David Atraghji had told magistrates there were shouts directed at the extremists of "Bin Laden's wife is a whore" and "go and have a shave".

The men were captured by BBC News cameras covering the parade in Luton
He added he had seen finger and hand gestures, and the Muslim protesters were told in explicit terms by the crowd to "go home".

In a police interview, the court heard, Kelso said the protesters were abusing people he considered heroes.

"My intention was to give them a piece of my mind," he added.

"If they want to be like that, they should go back where they came from.

Speaking after the hearing, Supt Mark Turner said: "Luton town has enjoyed excellent community relations for a number of years but it seems last year a small minority came to the town to cause disorder.

"There has been extensive public consultation and work behind the scenes to strengthen community cohesion in the town."

Man Accused of Assaulting Luton Sikh Mayor

A man who admitted assaulting the Asian mayor of a town after Muslim extremists protested against British troops returning from Iraq, told a jury today (Thursday, March 4) he was not a racist.

Kier McElroy, 19, was giving evidence about his part in a demonstration two months later in which it's alleged he attacked a young Asian student in a shop doorway.

Mr McElroy has admitted assaulting the man occasioning him actual bodily harm as well as affray, but he denies a charge of racially aggravated assault on the victim Venkateswara Muppalla.

Mr McElroy was arrested by Bedfordshire Police in July last year, two months after a right wing march in Luton had ended in violence.

The demonstration on the afternoon of Sunday May 24 had involved a group of around 200-300 young men who marched through Luton town centre.

Luton Crown Court was told that the march was in response to a homecoming parade on March 10 last year by the Royal Anglian Regiment through Luton, which had been targeted by Muslim extremists.

On that occasion, young Muslims had carried banners and chanted slogans calling the soldiers "Butchers of Basra", "Baby killers" and "Murderers."

At the start of the trial, Sarah Porter prosecuting said the crown's case was that Mr McElroy had been involved in the violence on May 24 last year. She said he could not be identified immediately because, in addition to his bright orange top and jeans that he was wearing that day, his face was also covered for part of the time with a black balaclava.

She then told how that afternoon Mr Muppalla and his friend Vijaychaitanya Kovvuri, who were students at the university, were walking along George Street in the town centre when they became aware of a large group walking towards them.

The court heard that, on seeing other young Asian males running from the crowd into Chapel Street, the two students decided to follow them.

The jury heard that Mr Kovvuri managed to get into a chicken shop and the door was then locked.

As a result, said Miss Porter, Mr Muppalla was left locked outside in the doorway as he found himself surrounded by people from the demonstration.

The jury have been told that Mr McElroy was part of that group and was holding a banner which it is alleged he used to then strike Mr Muppalla.

The prosecutor told the jury that they would have to decide whether the assault was racially aggravated.

She told the court how, on March 10, when the homecoming parade of the Royal Anglian Regiment had been targeted by young Muslims, the defendant had assaulted the Mayor of Luton that day.

Dealing with the assault on May 24 last year of Mr Muppalla, Miss Porter said: "The crown say he attacked someone who was Asian simply because they were Asian."

In the witness box Mr Muppalla said he and his friend went into Chapel Street on seeing the crowd, because they wanted to try and get behind the police.

He said on finding himself locked outside the shop, he was then struck once in the face.

As a result, he said he was knocked to the floor and then, when he was picked up, he was struck with a "stick".

In the witness box, Mr McElroy of Langford Drive, Luton, said he had been present in Luton town centre on March 10 last year when he saw the protest taking place against the troops.

"I thought it was disgusting that it was allowed to happen," he told the jury.

He said that on seeing the mayor, he ran up to him and kicked him because, he told the jury, he was the one who had given the protestors permission to be there.

He said the attack was nothing to do with race or colour and he later pleaded guilty to an offence of common assault on the mayor.

Turning then to the May 24 demonstration, he said he thought it had been organised by a group called "United People of Luton".

He said he went into Luton that day, adding "I thought it was disgusting what they did against the troops."

In the town centre, he said he starting drinking at around 10am and continued throughout the day. He agreed that, at one stage, he had worn a face mask which he said was of a "creature of hate" who also had links with Al Qaeda.

He said there had been some chanting against Muslims in general, but he said those responsible were a minority and at the back of the crowd.

Asked what sort of chanting he had been involved in, he admitted he had shouted "scum" but said the words were aimed at the police, saying the reason was they had not done anything about the demonstration against the troops.

He said in Chapel Street he became aware of a conflict outside a shop. He said: "I got involved, I was drunk. My vision was cloudy and I assaulted someone."

He said it was not justified and he had not said anything before striking his victim.

Asked if he had assaulted Mr Muppalla because of his race, he replied: "No, he could have been black, white or Asian. It would not have mattered, I didn't know what I was doing."

Asked if he was a racist, he replied that he wasn't and there were Muslims in his own family as well as Sikhs.

Case proceeding.