MEMBERS of a race hate ‘mob’ have admitted taking part in a violent showdown with Asian rivals in an East Lancashire town.
Supporters of the English Defence League descended on Brierfield last July and were involved in a series of flashpoints with locals.
And 12, including a man previously convicted of causing a serious brain injury to a pubgoer, have now confessed to their roles in the public disorder.
Earlier that day an EDL ‘flash mob’ had also surrounded the Simonstone home of north-west Euro MP Sajjad Karim, with his wife and children trapped inside, police said.
The Conservative MEP said his family, wife Zahida and their two young children Bilal, and Rabia, were left terrified as the mob assembled outside.
Later a 25-strong contingent became involved in a series of incidents in the Colne Road area of Brierfield, police said.
Yesterday at Preston Crown Court Bernard Holmes, 26, of Bolton Road, Leonard Hawley, 47, of Worcester Road, all Blackburn, and David Wilson, 47, of Devon Road, all Blackburn, and Jason Smith, 43, of Torquay Avenue, Burnley, pleaded guilty to causing racially aggravated fear or provocation of violence. Violent disorder charges against all four will lie on file.
David Garratt, 45, of Beckett Street, Darwen, admitted possession of a chisel.
And Graham Smith, 48, of Drapefield, Chorley, Leanne Thornton, 26, of Oak Avenue, Todmorden, Paul Blundell, 45, of Lee Street, Longridge, John English, 24, of Shorrock Lane, Blackburn, Martin Corner, 31, of Corporation Street, Chorley, Jordan Lonsdale, 20, of Ribble Lane, Clitheroe, Paul Jackson, 41, of Springbank Terrace, Blackburn, each admitted using threatening behaviour.
They had denied charges of violent disorder.
Prosecutor David Tempkin said that a ‘pragmatic view’ had been taken on the case after consultations with police.
Mr Tempkin said the arrival of the group in Brierfield had resulted in a large number of Asian men arming themselves for a confrontation.
Trials are set to take place involving a number of Brierfield men for their alleged roles in the ensuing melee later this year.
Judge Jonathan Wright released all the defendants on bail and they will be sentenced on May 25.
Bernard Holmes was previously jailed for 28 months for causing grievous bodily harm to Sean Baxendale outside Bar Ibiza in Blackburn town centre.
Speaking after the case Mr Karim said: “To be afraid to leave one’s house with a mob fuelled by hate protests outside is as frightening as it gets.
“They showed no regard to the fact my wife and daughter were at home.
“It left me hoping and praying that our four walls would keep us safe and you can’t begin to imagine how my young daughter felt.
“There were many more innocent people caught up in their violence that day and I am thankful this 11th hour change of plea means they won’t have to relive their ordeal in a courtroom.”
Supt Steve Pemberton, of Lancashire Police, said: “This was a spontaneous incident on a busy Saturday afternoon which could have been much more serious than it fortunately was had it not been for the speedy police response and that of local community leaders who were able to quell any subsequent rise in tensions.
“The constabulary respects the right to peaceful protest but where people resort to disorder, as in this case, we will deal firmly with them.”
“We have been working closely with community leaders since this incident to keep them informed about the progress of the investigation, which is ongoing.”