Riot Gang Members Jailed For Up To 30 Years
UK and World News
A gang of six who shot at a police helicopter and officers during last summer's riots have been given prison sentences of up to 30 years.
The group, who "lured" police to a blaze at a pub in the Aston area of Birmingham before opening fire, were jailed for a range of offences including rioting, reckless arson and firearms possession.
Birmingham Crown Court heard at least 12 shots were fired at officers from West Midlands Police and the force helicopter, and at least four handguns were used.
Jurors saw footage that had been filmed from the force helicopter. It showed the aircraft tracking the gang as they dispersed.
Sentencing the gang, all from the West Midlands, after they were convicted following a six-week trial, Judge William Davis QC described the incident as a "concerted attack on the police".
He said: "It is very difficult to conceive a case of this type more serious than this one."
Nicholas Francis, aged 26, described by the judge as "clearly a dangerous man", was jailed for 30 years; Jermaine Lewis, 27, and Tyrone Laidley, 20, for 23 years; and Renardo Farrell, 20, and Wayne Collins, 25, each received 18 years.
A 17-year-old youth, who can now be named as Amirul Rehman after the judge lifted an order, was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment.
The court heard the gang were part of a larger group of 41 - their faces covered, and some carrying petrol bombs - rioting outside The Bartons Arms in Aston on the evening of August 9, 2011.
Members of the group stormed the building, smashing windows and ransacking the premises, throwing chairs and tables out onto the pavement.
"The purpose of all this was not to loot or to steal. Nor was it mindless vandalism. The purpose, the common purpose, was to behave in such a way that the police would come to the scene and then to attack the police," said the judge.
"The intention was to endanger life. Although no physical injury was suffered, that was wholly a matter of luck. Had the police helicopter been struck, the consequences could have been catastrophic.
"There may have been no physical injury to a police officer, but the damage to the wellbeing of the city of Birmingham caused by an armed gang prepared to act in this way was grave."
Francis, Lewis, Laidley, Farrell, and Collins were convicted of rioting, reckless arson and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.
Rehman was found guilty of rioting and firearms possession with intent.
Judge Davis said: "For all but one of these defendants, the position is aggravated by the fact that they were party to arson at the Bartons Arms in circumstances which put the lives of those within the public house at risk.
"The defendants were completely indifferent to the welfare of those upstairs. All they were interested in was luring the police to the area.
"The fact that members of staff looking on helplessly upstairs were put in real fear and no little danger meant nothing to them."