‘Marauding pack’ jailed for Sunderland back lane attack

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Four men jailed over a back lane attack which left an uncle and nephew fearing they would be killed were like “a marauding pack”.

Newcastle Crown Court heard the disturbance happened in the lane behind Peel Street, Hendon, and followed on from a demonstration in support of an alleged sex attack victim last September.

Sean Ruffell.

Sean Ruffell.

Two Asian men were drawn into the back lane by the sound of their cars being damaged, including a brick being thrown through a window, with repairs running to £1,100.

The court was told they could hear the word “dirty” being shouted underneath the shutters of a back yard, as well as comments relating to colour and Muslims.

A number of the eight men involved in the fight which broke out - which involved a garden fork and another tool - were wearing hi-vis jackets bearing the word “warden” on them which had been seen at the march.

Prosecutor Vince Ward described the men as a “splinter group” from the demonstration and added: “It’s clear from the context of this situation that this was a racially motivated attack.”

At this time you were a marauding pack.

Recorder Nicholas Barker

Witnesses told police they saw the men being kicked and punched, even when they were on the ground and clearly unconscious.

They were both taken to hospital by ambulance after police arrived on the scene. The uncle was left in need of stitches, with injuries to his head and right eye and bleeding from his gums and chin, while his nephew had a cut to the back of his head and forehead and injuries to his chest.

The uncle told officers: “I thought they were going to kill me” while his younger relative said: “I didn’t think anything like this could happen in England.”

Philip Hackers, 38, previously of D’Arcy Court, Hendon, and now of Oak Avenue, South Shields; Gary Hutchinson, 45, of Gilbert Court, Sunderland; Sean Ruffell, 26, of Athol Road, Hendon, and Darren Kerr, 26, of Gartland Avenue, Grindon, were each jailed for 27 months after they all pleaded guilty to affray.

Darren Kerr.

Darren Kerr.

Ruffell was jailed for a total of five years, with another four months given after he admitted possession of an offensive weapon - a knuckle duster found on him when he was arrested while he was involved in a fight in Mowbray Park in the aftermath of the demonstration - and 30 months for three counts of possession of drugs with intent to supply, dating back to a raid on his home in 2014.

Hutchinson faces another two months in jail for two shoplifting incidents from supermarkets while on bail for the affray.

Hackers also admitted possession of amphetamine on the day of the march, but faced no further punishment.

Recorder Nicholas Barker told the men: “After the demonstration it’s clear all four of you and four others decided on a course and were intent on finding trouble and that was the driver for distorted and prejudicial views towards Asian heritage.

Gary Hutchinson.

Gary Hutchinson.

“At this time you were a marauding pack.

“You were prepared or intent on meting out violence in any way that met your perverted ideas.”

The court heard alcohol had been consumed around the march, which had played a part in the outbreak of violence.

Ruffell’s ex-partner Jerri Butler, 27, of St Lucia Close, Hendon, who was not connected to the march in any way, was given 16 months imprisonment for possession of cocaine with intent to supply and 12 months in jail for possession of cannabis with intent to supply - the same charges as her former boyfriend - suspended for two years.

The court heard she had been working at a youth and community centre while the offending happened and had to leave her job as a result of the charges.

Philip Hackers.

Philip Hackers.