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Friday, 27 September 2013 (3043395)
Jailed for attack on anti-fascists
by Ollie Cowan

A MAN from Southport was part of a group jailed last week for a violent attack on anti-fascist activists in Liverpool city centre.

Matthew Coates, 22, from Albert Road, was put behind bars along with five other ‘far-right sympathisers' who ambushed people going to an anti-fascist benefit gig in July 2012.

Jailing the men, Judge Robert Trevor-Jones said: “You are all members or have associations with groups which happen to hold right wing views and positions, whether it be the National Front, English Defence Force or North West Infidels.

”It is that common feature which brought you all together to Bold Street because you had been made aware that there was to be some form of anti-fascist meeting planned to take place.

“It is quite clear you all went onto Bold Street with a view to disrupt or prevent that meeting taking place even if you did not intend direct violence beforehand.

”Of course in that situation involving two groups in confrontation holding diametrically opposed views there is always the clear risk of conflict which is what occurred as shown in various CCTV images shown in court.“

He continued, ”Although the violence was short lived it was in full view of passers by, initially out in the street before it spread into a nearby cafe and causing tables and chairs to be overturned and glasses to be smashed and naturally customers inside the cafe were understandably distressed.“

Judge Trevor-Jones told them, ”It should be made clear that those who congregate in public places and then use violence against others holding opposing beliefs who are otherwise engaged in lawful activities can expect to be treated firmly by the courts.“

As the men, who had all admitted violent disorder early on the evening of July 6 last year, were led to the cells, their supporters who had crowded into the public gallery clapped, raised their arms in salute and shouted, ”No surrender“ and ”No justice at all.“

In the footage shown to Liverpool Crown Court, a group of about ten men, led by 25-year-old Wirral man Liam Pinkham, is seen purposefully striding across the street from Renshaw Street.

Outside the Tabac cafe restuarant they are seen confronting the smaller group of anti-fascists, who were about to hold a fund raising event in the News from Nowhere book shop.

Some of the group, their identities partly concealed with hoods or scarfs, followed their targets inside and kicked and punched them, outnumbering them two to one, before fleeing.

Their victims, who suffered minor injuries including one with a large lump on his temple, did not make statements to the police.

Pinkham, of Whetstone Lane, Birkenhead, whose previous convictions include affrays connected with the English Defence League, was jailed for 17 months.

The judge said he had led the group across the road and ”was the instigator of the violence and continued through that violence inside the cafe. You have a pattern of disorder and violence in public places.“

Anya Horwood, prosecuting, said that when his mobile phone was interrogated by police it showed he had received a text about the event and suggests it should be ”stormed.“

Shane Calvert, 31, of Shetland Avenue, Blackburn and Michael Kearns, 39, of Dovecot Avenue, Dovecot, Liverpool, were both jailed for 14 months.

Matthew Coates was jailed to ten months.

Miss Horwood said that shaven-headed Coates remained outside the cafe during the entire incident and was not seen to do anything physical towards anyone but had been seen pulling up a face covering.

When interviewed Coates said that Pinkham had sent him a Facebook message and invited him to meet up in the Head of Steam pub in Liverpool and he was aware of the anti-fascist benefit gig taking place that evening.

He said that he had walked over Bold Street out of curiosity and ”wanted to watch the fight.“

His barrister Michael Jones said that Coates, who has no previous relevant convictions, had approached the front of the cafe but did not go in and become physically involved.


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