Seven admit playing a part in Walsall EDL protest violence

Seven men have admitted being involved in trouble that broke out during an English Defence League protest in Walsall town centre.

Seven admit playing a part in Walsall EDL protest violence

Trouble flared at the EDL rally in Leicester Street on September 29 last year, while Unite Against Fascism held a separate event elsewhere in the town centre.

Hundreds of EDL supporters had been in the town and some stewards, EDL supporters and police officers suffered injuries when violence erupted.

Seven men appeared at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday and each pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder.

Mark Baker, aged 43, of Horseshoe Close, Pleck, Walsall; Benjamin Banfield, 34, of Meg Thatchers Green, Saint George, Bristol; Dean Lidster, 44, of Hatfield Road, Stratford; and Craig Forward, aged 37, of Neptune Street, Tipton, stood together in the jury box as they delivered their pleas in front of Judge Michael Challinor.

Christopher Jelley, 27, of Broadway Close, Shrewsbury; Myles Smith, 39, of Parkway Towers, Leeds, and Leslie Silk, 36, of Gatcombe Road, Bristol, also appeared in a separate hearing.

Apart from entering their guilty pleas, the defendants only spoke to confirm their names, addresses and dates of birth during their appearances.

Their cases were adjourned for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.

Mr Stephen Cadwaladr, representing Baker, said his client had learning difficulties and was addicted to alcohol.

He said medical reports would also be prepared.

The defendants are each due to appear in front of a judge at Wolverhampton Crown Court in the coming months to be sentenced. They were all released on conditional bail.

The protest in the town centre caused shops and market stalls to close, and buses and taxis were suspended.

Police scoured CCTV footage and arrested a number of suspects throught to have been involved in the disorder.

Missiles including bricks and wooden panels were hurled at police, despite calls from the group's leaders for calm.

Steel police cordons were set up in Bridge Street and Darwall Street, bringing parts of the town centre to a standstill.

The main bus station St Paul's was also closed and buses were diverted, leaving some shoppers and visitors to the town stranded.

Chief Inspector Mike O'Hara said the trouble had been confined mostly to Leicester Street and the rest of the day had passed peacefully.

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