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30 May 2012, 14:15
Six people have been found guilty of rioting last summer during which a Nottingham police station was firebombed.
A jury at Nottingham Crown Court convicted Lance Francis, 25, of no fixed address, of riot, arson with intent to endanger life, and perverting the course of justice. Shaundre Robinson, 22, of Scotholme Avenue, Hyson Green; Gregory Coleman, 20, of Bells Lane, Broxtowe; Callum Powell, 20, of Jarrow Gardens, Top Valley, and two youths, aged 16 and 17 who cannot be named for legal reasons, were all convicted of riot.
Six other people had already pleaded guilty to riot at an earlier hearing, while four others admitted taking part in violent disorder. The 16 will be sentenced together at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday. A seventh person, Roxwell Yeaboah, 34, was cleared of a charge of riot by the jury.
The trial followed arrests over an attack on Canning Circus police station just before 10pm on August 9 last year, which saw a number of petrol bombs thrown by a large group of people, intent on setting the building on fire, Nottinghamshire Police said. Three police officers and three PCSOs were inside during the attack. No one was injured. Petrol bombs were thrown at other passing vehicles, including a bus. A number of vehicles, some parked and others which were stationary at traffic lights, were also damaged by the group as they travelled to and from the police station.
Pc Alex Cooney was one of the officers inside Canning Circus police station when the group attacked. As he opened the front door to put out the flames, bricks and stones were thrown, as well as another petrol bomb.
Despite this, he was able to successfully put out the fire. The defendants were all arrested in and around the area, after officers blocked exit routes and gave chase where necessary. One officer even went to the aid of Callum Powell, after he fell through the roof of a building while attempting to escape.
Following today's verdicts, Detective Chief Inspector Rob Griffin, from Nottinghamshire Police, who led the investigation, said: ``This group joined together with the common purpose of attacking Canning Circus police station. It is likely they had heard about disturbances across the country in the days leading up to August 9, including an attack on St Ann's police station the previous night.
``The group planned to meet up armed with weapons, sticks, and bottles filled with petrol with every intention of setting the police station alight, regardless of who was inside and the potential danger it put them in.
``The whole attack was filmed by a witness on a mobile phone and several members of the public called the control room, both fearful for their own safety and to report sightings of the group in possession of lit bottles.
``The offenders' complete lack of regard for authority is evident as they walked calmly away from the scene, in some cases approaching people's cars and causing further damage.
``The quick police response on the ground following the attack on Canning Circus and the willingness from members of the public to give evidence in court played a significant part in seeing those who were intent on being part of a riot jailed.''
Commenting after today's verdicts, Judith Walker, Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS East Midlands, said: ``Prosecuting this case was complex and challenging, and it is a tremendous credit to the Crown Prosecution Service legal team and the police investigating officers that these offenders have been convicted.
``This case presented particular challenges. There was clear video footage and evidence from eyewitnesses of violent and frightening behaviour and of firebombs being thrown.
``However, when the defendants were arrested, the evidence against them, for the most part, was their presence at the scene. ``When interviewed most made no comment or claimed they were simply passing through and not a party to any disorder.
``Our task was to piece together the evidence that would prove to a jury that each individual charged had been involved in the criminality which took place that night.
``The process of proving involvement required meticulous attention from the prosecuting lawyers and the police. Forensic evidence helped link suspects to the disorder and BlackBerry messages and social media helped establish that this was a planned, pre-meditated attack.
``As the picture unfolded, prosecutors were able to show that the evidence against each defendant was compelling, and indeed 10 pleaded guilty at the outset of the trial. ``This and today's convictions are the result of outstanding teamwork between prosecutors, police and prosecuting counsel to bring all this evidence together. ``These convictions send a clear message to the community of Nottingham that this kind of criminality will not be tolerated. ``No matter how difficult a case may seem, the police and the CPS are determined to work together to bring these offenders to justice.''
Ten other defendants had already pleaded guilty to their part in the disturbances at earlier hearings. Curtis Dejean, 19, of Welstead Avenue, Aspley, pleaded guilty to riot, arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered, and possession of explosives, while Reiss Wilson, 21, of Beckhampton Road, Bestwood, admitted riot, perverting the course of justice and arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered. Antany Edwards, 23, of Noel Street, Hyson Green; Ashton Alexander, 19, of Radford Road, New Basford; Harrison McCalla, 21, of Carlswark Gardens, Top Valley; and Lucas Stapleton, 18, of Dulwich Road, Radford, all pleaded guilty to riot. Four others - Ricardo Cotteral, 23, of Basford Road, Basford; Bobby Muers, 18, of Caunton Avenue, St Ann's; and two 16-year-old youths, also from St Ann's, admitted violent disorder.
The 10 will be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Friday alongside the six convicted today.