DCSIMG

Shoppers cower as Sunderland and West Ham Utd fans battle

editorial image

editorial image

MEMBERS of the public were forced to cower as football yobs from a gang known as the Sunderland Youth Firm clashed with rival fans in the city centre.

CCTV footage of the organised mass brawl, outside the Revolution bar in Low Row, shows punches and kicks being thrown while bottles were being broken, leaving the pavements covered in shards of glass.

One witness told police they felt “sick to the stomach” by what they saw that day.

Troublemakers then boasted about the violence with West Ham fans, via social networking sites and text messages.

Videos of the fight were also posted on video-sharing website YouTube.

Newcastle Crown Court heard members of the public looked on in fear and were worried for the safety of their children, when the afternoon trouble broke out ahead of the match on January 12.

The yobs were spared jail, but handed football banning orders for three years.

Judge Jeremy Freedman told them: “Football is a source of pleasure to literally millions of people.

“What football hooliganism of the type you engaged in does, is besmirch the good name of football and deter people from going to matches, particularly parents who want to take young children, lest they get caught up in scenes of violence.

“Members of the public can reasonably expect to enjoy the amenities of the town centre without being exposed to this kind of frightening activity.”

Prosecutor Robert Adams told the court the violence itself lasted only about three minutes, by which time police arrived. Mobile phones were seized when the gang was arrested.

Nobody reported any serious injury.

Mr Adams told the court: “It is the Crown’s case that all of the defendants were involved, to some extent in any event, with an organisation self-named the Sunderland Youth Firm.”

Mr Adams said the seized mobile phones showed a series of text message exchanges and boasts on social networking sites both before and after the trouble.

One message said: “Anyone who comes to our city doesn’t leave without a good clip.” Another message, relating to a future game, said: “What are they going to do? Get punched from one end of Sunderland to the other.”

As well as the written messages, the court heard the phones contained pictures and videos of the violence that day.

One of the men declared he “loves football hooliganism” on his Twitter biography.

The court heard the men are not heavily convicted and come from respectable backgrounds.

Defence barrister Christopher Knox said: “The reality is, as soon as the police arrived, everybody ran away.”

Sunderland Chief Superintendent Kay Blyth, said: “There is no place for violence at football matches and we will always do everything possible to make sure those suspected of being involved are traced and put before the courts.”

Football hooligans named and shamed

Lewis Dodsworth, 19, of Bowburn Avenue, Wear View, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 250 hours’ unpaid work.

Bradley Dixon, 19, of Patton Road, Plains Farm, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with £1,000 costs.

Thomas Kelly, 19, of Eighth Avenue, Chester-le-Street, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and 250 hours’ unpaid work.

Former EDL member Anthony Smith, 26, of Purvis Terrace, Trimdon, who claimed to love hooliganism on his Twitter page, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and 250 hours’ unpaid work.

Connor McCoy, 21, of Perth Avenue, Jarrow, was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 250 hours’ unpaid work and 12 months supervision.

Paratrooper Jamie Phenny, 21, of The Spinney, Bridgend, was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with £1,000 costs.

Christopher Webb, 24, of East Herrington, Sunderland, was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with supervision and an alcohol treatment programme.

All pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder at an earlier hearing.

 
 
 

Back to the top of the page