Balaclava-clad gang ambushed solicitor and client outside Burnley town hall (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Balaclava-clad gang ambushed solicitor and client outside Burnley town hall
A SOLICITOR and his client were ‘ambushed’ by a nine-strong balaclava-clad gang armed with baseball bats in a revenge attack outside Burnley Town Hall, a court heard.
Bad blood between the Stokes and McDonagh, two families from the travellers’ community, led to a pitched battle on Manchester Road that saw a BMW rammed, masked men terrorise passers-by and frantic chases.
Prosecutors said workers feared for their safety when the mob tailed a ‘McDonagh’ car along Queen’s Lancashire Way.
But when the attack ended in chaos, others gave a running commentary on one of the ‘gangsters’, enabling police to arrest him in Glen View Road.
Richard Howarth, prosecuting, said the episode began when Patrick and Frank McDonagh were arrested over an alleged assault on Brian ‘Barney’ Stokes and Edward Stokes in Burnley. In mid-January, 2012, the Stokes clan learned that Frank McDonagh was due to answer bail at Burnley police station.
And when Mr McDonagh left the Parker Lane station with his lawyer Sukhdip Randhawa, in a green BMW, he noticed fellow traveller Thomas Stokes in a white van in front of them. The pair were going towards the M65 when they realised they had gone the wrong way. They did a U-turn on Queen’s Lancashire Way, said Mr Howarth.
The van did likewise and as the BMW headed to the town centre, Mr McDonagh spotted a burgundy Vauxhall Omega, driven by Michael Stokes, a member of the same family.
Michael Stokes is said to have gestured that Mr McDonagh ‘was dead’ so the BMW headed towards the police station.
But the Omega ‘rammed’ the BMW, forcing it off the road. Mr McDonagh ran towards a nearby police car. The burgundy Omega sped away and was found abandoned in Dyneley Lane.
A passer-by found hockey sticks and balaclavas dumped in grass. The court heard that a blue Omega car then entered the fray. It was driven towards the BMW but crashed into a van.
Four men spilled out of the blue Omega, armed with baseball bats or sticks, shouting ‘McDonagh, you’re dead’, said Mr Howarth.
But Mr McDonagh and his terrified solicitor fled.
The armed quartet then fled, pausing only to dump balaclavas and gloves in the Leeds Liverpool Canal but as the waterway was frozen over, police were able to recover the items and trace three of the suspects.
Michael Stokes, 46, of Bradfield Road, Crewe; Edward Stokes, 38, of Kettel Avenue, Crewe; Thomas Joseph Stokes, 31, of Nairn Close, Fearnhead, Warrington; and Thomas Gerrard Stokes, 34, of Nixon Drive, Winsford, were all later arrested and admitted violent disorder at an earlier hearing.
After hearing an outline of what happened, Judge Simon Newell decided to bail all four until March 15 for sentence.