Category Archives: Riots
Government plans to overhaul legal aid threaten to destroy the “world-renowned” British justice system, barristers have told ministers – and prison experts have said the measures threaten such a level of national unrest inside our jails that they could eventually cost far more than any potential savings would ever hope to save.
The Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, has published its response to the Ministry of Justice consultation on legal aid reform, which includes paving the way for lawyers to compete for contracts.
The 150-page response said price competitive tendering (PCT) promotes the “lowest possible quality of service” and will result in further changes to civil legal aid, hitting society’s most vulnerable people.
Other changes will see criminal defendants living in households with a disposable income of £37,500 or more stopped from automatically accessing legal aid, while prisoners’ rights to the support will also would be curbed.
Maura McGowan QC, chairman of the Bar Council, said: “There is no avoiding the simple fact that these proposals would move us from having a justice system which is admired all over the world, to a system where price trumps all.
“PCT may look as though it achieves short-term savings, but it is a blunt instrument that will leave deep scars on our justice system for far longer. Further cuts to the scope of civil legal aid will limit access to justice for some of the most vulnerable. That is a legacy of which no Government should be proud.”
She added: “The proposals simply do not have a sufficient evidence base on which to attract support. We believe that if these proposals are implemented as they stand, the system will go very badly wrong. Once implemented, these measures cannot be easily reversed.”
Ms McGowan QC said Justice Secretary Chris Grayling should achieve any required reforms “without destroying a world-renowned institution”.
The Bar Council response said that the proposals would destroy the livelihoods of many smaller solicitors’ firms and the criminal defence Bar.
Criminal legal aid costs taxpayers more than £1 billion every year and the proposals should cut the bill by £220 million.
In April, reforms to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (Laspo) came into effect, removing large areas of law from the scope of civil legal aid.
Some law firms estimated the reforms will reduce the number of people who qualify for legal aid by 75%, meaning around 200,000 fewer cases, while barristers warned the cuts are the biggest to civil legal aid since the system was introduced in 1949.
In its response to the consultation, the Bar Standards Board (BSB), the body responsible for regulating barristers, said plans to pay legal aid lawyers the same amount for a “guilty” or “not guilty” plea could lead to defendants being pressurised into pleading guilty.
It said cases where the defendant enters an initial guilty plea are typically shorter and so cheaper than trials to assess guilt.
Setting the same fee for cases where a defendant pleads guilty and for longer trials may create an incentive for lawyers to encourage clients to plead guilty.
Bar Standards Board chair Baroness Ruth Deech said: “These reforms may endanger the ability of our legal system to guarantee everyone a fair trial.
“While we accept that the current austerity measures are a consequence of the financial climate, protecting the public, and ensuring criminal cases are dealt with fairly and justly, remain of the utmost importance.”
Mr Grayling said: “We have one of the best legal professions in the world.
“But at a time of major financial challenges, the legal sector cannot be excluded from the Government’s commitment to getting better value for taxpayers’ money. We believe costs paid to lawyers through legal aid should reflect this.
“Professional, qualified lawyers will be available, just as they are now, and contracts will only be awarded to lawyers who meet quality standards set by the profession.
“Wealthy defendants who can afford to pay for their own legal bills should do so. Our proposal is to introduce a threshold on Crown Court legal aid so that people earning around £100,000 a year are no longer automatically granted legal aid.
“We have one of the most expensive legal aid systems in the world, with about £1 billion a year spent just on criminal legal aid.
“These changes are about getting the best value for the taxpayer and will not in any way affect someone’s right to a fair trial.”
The disposable income cap of £37,500 per household would impact defendants with six-figure salaries, an MoJ spokesman added.
But Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said those figures were disputed by many prison law experts, and the threatened cuts in legal aid could end up ‘costing far more than the measures would ever save’.
Mr Leech said: “Look, its not rocket science, but history shows there comes a policy tipping point where one cut too much results in a backlash inside our overcrowded powder-keg prisons, which are things that we desperately need to avoid – these things can rapidly spread nationally, caused by cuts that while understandable politically are nontheless, in practice, just one cut too many.”
Mr Leech explaned: “In 1990 the riot at Strangeways prison in Manchester spread within days to 13 other prisons, it cost the taxpayer over ninety million pounds, people died, no one wants to be seen talking these things up, and certaintly not me – but we can’t ignore history nor the facts or the consequences that we know from history are seriously likely to occur.
“The lesson now, before its too late is this: Stop, don’t pick on vulnerable prisoners any more, they’re a soft political target but history also shows that pushed too far they are a formidable resistable force which when unleashed has an incredible national impetus – try focusing on the bankers (or ‘Banksters’ as they’ve become known) instead – or at least as a minimum let’s have a rational national debate about its policy.
“It’s not too late – but we really do need to be now all on the same side.”
A prisoner at Full Sutton maximum security prison near York is in a critical condition after another prisoner slashed his throat with a knife.
Mark Leech, editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners in England and Wales said:
“Converse sources at the jail told the newspaper that the whole prison had gone into lock down following the assault on 25th April and the inmate was rushed to a local hosital where he is in a critical condition.”
Full Sutton is one of eight prisons which form part of the High Security Estate, holding long term prisoners including terrorists, murderers and those who will never be released
In the 2012 annual report by the Independent Monitoring Board for Full Sutton, the Board said assaults were down by 57 per cent since 2008, thanks to a good staff-prisoner relationships and a tight hold on security, but they warned that budget cuts of £1.1m in 2013/14 “will lead to a potential loss of control, making the prison unsafe for both staff and prisoners.”
A report by the Prisons Inspectorate earlier this year said that Full Sutton Prison near Pocklington “dealt very effectively with challenges other prisons find difficult to manage”.
It said that “levels of violence were low, drug use was low and there was a range of good quality, well-managed purposeful activity available.”
However Inspectors expressed concerns about the segregation unit where Inspectors criticised the unit for a “insufficient focus on improving behaviour and helping men reintegrate back on the main wings.”.
The report said: “It is generally an impressive establishment that maintains an effective balance between providing the necessary levels of security and affording the men it holds decent treatment and conditions.”
The jail was opened 11 years ago and holds around 600 of the country’s most serious offenders.
Prisoners are set to be prevented from claiming legal aid to pursue complaints against the prison system, the government has announced – amid claims by jail experts that it could lead to riots inside prisons.
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling said taxpayers’ money was being used for “unnecessary legal cases” that could be dealt with by the prison service.
The Ministry of Justice will consult on the proposals which it said would mean 11,000 fewer cases and save £4m a year.
Prison campaigners said the plans were “profoundly unfair” and “negative”.
Mr Grayling said: “I have been appalled that taxpayers pay millions of pounds every year supplying lawyers for prisoners to bring unnecessary legal cases.
“The vast majority of these types of complaint can and should be dealt with by the prison service’s complaints system.
“After years spiralling out of control, the amount spent on legal aid for prisoners is being tackled.
“Legal aid must be preserved for those most in need and where a lawyer’s services are genuinely needed.”
The move would cover issues such as the category of prison or which section of a prison an inmate was being held in, and levels of visits and correspondence.
Mark Leech editor of Converse the national newspaper for prisoners said it was a blind alley for the prison service that “could end up costing a hundred times what it might save”
Mr Leech said: “The prison complaints system is a sham, it is overseen by a Prisons Ombudsman who was himself a 20-year employee and Assistant Director of the very prison service he is charged with independently investigating and who has no confidence of the prisoners who complain to him.
“I fully understand the need to save money, unwinnable legal cases waste resources and help no-one, but publicly funding people in custody to challenge their treatment in the courts is the price we all pay for a democracy and must continue to do so.
“Chris Grayling should remember the reason we even have a prison complaints system, shambolic as it is, is as a result of the Strangeways Riots 23 years ago this month which caused over £90m in damage – £400m in today’s figures.
“Removing the courts from the complaints process inside our prisons risks riots, destruction and death, it could end up costing a hundred times what it might save – Lord Bridge in one famous prison legal case said he could ‘think of no greater reason for unrest inside our prisons than a feeling that prisoners have been treated unfairly and have no effective means of redress’ and the Government needs to remember those words.”
Andrew Neilson, director of campaigns at the Howard League for Penal Reform, said it was important that prisoners had access to the courts.
He said: “The government’s proposals to further curtail legal aid for prisoners are profoundly unfair and will have negative consequences for society as a whole.
“An internal complaints system is no replacement for external scrutiny by the courts, while the already stretched prison ombudsman does not have the power to provide meaningful redress.
“Without prisoners being able to access legal aid, which has already been restricted to prevent frivolous claims, we may see a collapse in justice in the very place where it should be paramount – within prison walls.”
Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: “While no-one would support vexatious use of the law, when it comes to people deprived of their liberty and held by the State you do need safeguards to ensure that our prison system is fair, decent and open to legitimate challenge.”
The announcement comes after changes to the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act came into effect on Monday in England and Wales.
This saw public funding removed from entire areas of civil law, including some family cases, as ministers bid to reduce the £2.2bn legal aid bill by £350m.
There are also government proposals to reduce legal aid costs in criminal cases.
HMP Wandsworth and London Ambulance Service severely criticised by jury at inquest concerning death of man imprisoned for stealing a gingerbread man during the London riots
A jury has severely criticised HMP Wandsworth and the London Ambulance Service (LAS) for ‘failures within the systems and the consequent delays’ which meant not enough was done to attempt to save the life of a man detained during the 2011 Croydon riots for stealing from a bakery.
James Best, 37, was being held on remand at HMP Wandsworth when he collapsed and died of a heart attack after a gym session on 8 September 2011. At the conclusion of an inquest into his death on Friday, the coroner recorded a narrative verdict describing the shambolic response once James became ill. The jury described the timing of the call to the LAS, and the lack of priority given to the call by the LAS, as both ‘potentially contributing to’ James Best’s death.
James had a history of mental ill health and medical problems including Crohn’s disease and asthma. In accordance with prison service policy he should not have been allowed to use the gym without the approval of healthcare staff. The inquest heard evidence that the gym assessment policy had broken down, with assessment forms being signed by prisoners rather than officers and no referrals being made to healthcare
Evidence at the inquest raised serious concerns over the efficacy of the response of healthcare staff to James Best’s needs following the heart attack. In addition there were lengthy delays with the dispatch of an emergency ambulance. The call from the prison to the London Ambulance Service lasted 13 minutes despite an officer telling the LAS that James was having difficulty breathing and repeated requests for an ambulance by the nurse attending to James. James was declared dead as the paramedics arrived.
James had been convicted for stealing from a looted bakery. He was remanded in custody awaiting sentence. This was his first time in prison. At the time, magistrates were issued with advice from the courts and tribunals service to disregard normal sentencing guidelines for offences committed as part of the 2011 riots. Consequently there was a surge in the prison population, putting increased pressure on already crowded prisons.
James Best’s foster mother Dolly Daniel, who looked after him from the age of 15, said:
“He was such a loving person and our other children looked up to him as a hero. He was always looking out for friends and we just can’t believe he has gone.
“To find out that his death may have been avoided if there were proper checks on his health is so hard to take in.
“He was let down by the justice system – he should never have been in prison in the first place – and they basically ignored his health issues. I just hope that the procedures can be improved so that no one else has to suffer as we have.”
Deborah Coles, co-director of INQUEST said:
“Not only should James never have been imprisoned in the first place but there remain serious questions about why a prison like Wandsworth that has seen a disturbing number of deaths is still failing to implement basic policies and procedures designed to protect the health and safety of its detainees.
“The Prison Service needs to urgently review and act on the serious systemic failings exposed by this inquest. Whilst sentencing policy remains outside the scope of the inquest serious questions must be asked of Government as to the decision to imprison a vulnerable man for such a trivial offence. ”
Nancy Collins, representing James Best’s family, said:
“The circumstances of James’ tragic death are symptomatic of a prison service in crisis. The evidence heard at the inquest shows that James was failed by the prison staff, the prison healthcare staff and the London Ambulance Service.
“Unless urgent measures are implemented to address those failures there is a very real risk that there will be other avoidable deaths in prison custody.”
Notes to editors:
1. In 2011 inspectors at HMP Wandsworth reported that the prison, which holds over 1,500 prisoners, was branded the most “unsafe” in the country for prisoners. There were 11 deaths at the jail between January 2010 and June 2011, and last week’s inquest was the third this year.
2. For further information, please contact Hannah Ward, Communications Manager at INQUEST on 020 7263 1111 | 07972 492 230 | email@example.com
INQUEST provides a general telephone advice, support and information service to any bereaved person facing an inquest and a free, in-depth complex casework service on deaths in custody/state detention or involving state agents and works on other cases that also engage article 2 of the ECHR and/or raise wider issues of state and corporate accountability. INQUEST’s policy and parliamentary work is informed by its casework and we work to ensure that the collective experiences of bereaved people underpin that work. Its overall aim is to secure an investigative process that treats bereaved families with dignity and respect; ensures accountability and disseminates the lessons learned from the investigation process in order to prevent further deaths occurring.
Please refer to INQUEST the organisation in all capital letters in order to distinguish it from the legal hearing.
Just one in 13 foreigners who took part in the riots of 2011 have been deported, it emerged today.
More than 200 foreign criminals were convicted for their part in the riots, which saw shops looted, businesses burnt to the ground and hundreds of millions of pounds of damage done.
Of the 201 cases passed to the UK Border Agency (UKBA), only 15 have been kicked out the country, showed figures released to the Daily Mail following a Freedom of Information request.
Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: “Any foreign national who abuses the privilege of coming to the UK by committing a serious offence should face the consequences.
“Many of those convicted of involvement in last summer’s riots are still behind bars – that’s where they belong. We are pursuing deportation in scores of cases and wherever possible, when they have paid their debt to society, we will remove them from the UK.”
Some 28 have been given permission to stay because they “do not meet deportation criteria”, while a total of 63 are still in prison or in immigration detention awaiting deportation. Three others have been allowed to remain after legal appeals.
Another 53 are classed as “still being considered for deportation”, while there are 31 who have been given temporary admission while their cases are considered.
And three convicted foreign rioters have absconded after failing to comply with bail conditions, while five others are still waiting to be sentenced.
Burglary, robbery, theft, criminal damage and disorder were among the offences committed.
The UK Border Agency set up Operation Lancaster to track and remove foreign offenders involved in “serious criminality” during the riots in August 2011.
The Government said it is determined to remove law-breakers from the country at the earliest opportunity.
The rules state that any non-EU national sentenced to more than 12 months in prison will be automatically recommended for deportation at the end of their sentence, while EU nationals will be considered for deportation when sentenced to 24 months or more.
Shortly after the riots, the Ministry of Justice released a list showing 44 nationalities of convicted rioters, including those from Afghanistan, Cuba, Ethiopia and Samoa.
The largest group was Jamaicans, followed by Somali and Polish offenders, while other rioters came from Colombia, Iraq, the Congo, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
A man has been found guilty of supplying a gun to Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police just minutes later sparked the 2011 summer riots.
Kevin Hutchinson-Foster (above) was convicted today of passing the gun to Mr Duggan after a retrial at the Old Bailey. A jury previously failed to reach a verdict at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
During the trial the court heard that Mr Duggan collected the BBM Bruni Model 92 handgun just 15 minutes before he was shot dead on August 4 2011.
The 29-year-old’s death in Ferry Lane, Tottenham, north London, sparked riots that swept across London and other English towns and cities.
Hutchinson-Foster, 30, had denied a charge of “selling or transferring a prohibited firearm” to Mr Duggan between July 28 and August 5, 2011.
A jury at Snaresbrook Crown Court could not reach a verdict after a trial last year, but after a retrial at the Old Bailey, a jury of seven women and five men today convicted him by majority verdict.
During both trials armed police, who gave evidence anonymously, described how they opened fire on Mr Duggan because they saw him get out of the cab holding a loaded gun.
The officer who shot Mr Duggan twice – once in the chest and once in the arm – said he fired because he thought he was going to shoot him and his colleagues.
Mr Duggan (above), who was under police surveillance that day and the day before, had gone in the minicab to Leyton, east London, where he collected the gun in a shoebox from Hutchinson-Foster, before continuing to Tottenham.
The cab was pulled over by armed police in four unmarked cars in a “hard stop”, and as Mr Duggan got out clutching the gun, he was shot.
During the trial, prosecutor Edward Brown QC told the court: “The death of Mr Duggan has been regarded as the event that sparked the riots in north London, which then spread across London and then to other cities and which attracted widespread publicity in the United Kingdom and abroad.”
But he told the jury it was not their task to decide the “rights and wrongs” of Mr Duggan’s shooting, which will be examined at the inquest into his death, set to take place in September.
Hutchinson-Foster has admitted using the same gun to beat barber Peter Osadebay at a barber’s shop in Dalston, east London, just six days before Mr Duggan’s death. The defendant claimed this was why his DNA was found on the gun when it was retrieved from Ferry Lane on August 4, along with traces of Mr Osadebay’s blood.
The gun was found five metres from Mr Duggan’s body, on a grass verge behind railings.
The shoebox, found in the minicab, had both Mr Duggan’s and the defendant’s fingerprints on it, while mobile phone evidence showed they were in contact with each other in the run up to the shooting.
But Hutchinson-Foster, a cannabis user with convictions for possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to supply, claimed Mr Duggan had wanted his help to sell some cannabis.
He said he collected the firearm from someone else so he could beat Mr Osadebay on July 29, but had returned it on the same day.
The jury heard testimonies from the CO19 officers who shot Mr Duggan.
The man who opened fire on the 29-year-old, known only as V53, said he was sure Mr Duggan was holding a handgun.
He shot Mr Duggan once in the chest, then a second time, hitting his right bicep. Afterwards he went to treat a fellow officer who had been hit by a stray bullet, but realising it had hit his radio, started giving CPR to Mr Duggan.
Other officers told the court Mr Duggan was hiding something in his hand when the cab was stopped and saw him raise what appeared to be a gun as he got out.
But the minicab driver, who said he would never be able to wipe the incident from his mind, said he did not see Mr Duggan raise his arms towards officers.
After the verdict, the jury was shown CCTV of the incident at the barber’s shop on July 29, 2011, where Hutchinson-Foster threatened Peter Osadebay, then returned and used the gun to beat him.
Hutchinson-Foster previously pleaded guilty to a charge of possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, and one of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
“The attack upon Mr Osadebay was described by a male witness as a ‘pistol whipping’ by the defendant and the witness described how they were scared and frightened that he might fire some shots at the members of the public,” said Mr Brown.
He said another witness described being genuinely scared, and told police his girlfriend refused to go back to the salon.
“When police officers arrived they found Mr Osadebay injured, slipping in and out of consciousness, and in fact at one point lost consciousness.
“The Crown’s case has always been that the defendant, if he did obtain it (the gun) between the two visits to the hair salon, kept hold of it until August 4.”
The court heard that Hutchinson-Foster is in prison serving a 54-month sentence for possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to supply. That sentence is due to finish in December.
He had been released from prison after a previous sentence in April 2011, and committed these offences while on licence, Mr Brown said.
The case was adjourned until 11am on February 26, when Hutchinson-Foster will be sentenced.
Alison Saunders, CPS London chief crown prosecutor, said: “The CPS proceeded with this prosecution based on evidence that Kevin Hutchinson-Foster had transferred a gun to Mark Duggan hidden in a shoe box in Tottenham on 4 August 2011.
“He had already lied about possessing the same gun and beating a person with it six days earlier, despite strong evidence linking him to that offence.
“He eventually pleaded guilty to those charges and today a jury found him guilty of this further offence.
“We are committed to tackling the menace of gun crime and will continue working closely with the police to pursue and prosecute those who supply or transfer the weapons that have caused terrible pain to so many families.
“This conviction sends a strong message that gun crime and violence will not be tolerated in London.”
Chief superintendent Dean Haydon, from Scotland Yard’s Trident Gang Crime Command, which tackles gang and gun crime, said: “Kevin Hutchinson-Foster has today been found guilty of supplying a firearm to Mark Duggan.
“This is in addition to the two other offences he has already pleaded guilty to, namely assault and possession of a firearm with intent to cause fear.
“There is an ongoing IPCC investigation into the death of Mark Duggan and the circumstances of his death will be a matter for the coroner at a later date.
“The Trident Gang Crime Command supported by specialist firearms officers, lead the Met’s response to the criminal use of firearms in London.
“As a result of the hard work, commitment and dedication of our officers, London has seen a sustained 20% reduction in gun crime over the past four years, and last year alone the Metropolitan Police Service seized over 340 firearms and large quantities of ammunition.
“The Kevin Hutchinson-Foster trial has primarily been about the supply of an illegal firearm and I welcome the verdict of the jury in this case today.”
Venezuelan authorities today finished evacuating inmates from a prison where 61 were reported killed in one of the deadliest prison clashes in the nation’s history.
Penitentiary Service Minister Iris Varela said in a message on Twitter that the evacuation of Uribana prison in the city of Barquisimeto was completed this morning. Inmates were loaded aboard buses and driven to other prisons.
Varela posted photos of inmates filing out led by authorities, and said that what will come next for the prison is “now the reconstruction!”
Two days after the violence, government officials had yet to provide an official death toll from the fierce gun battles which pitted armed inmates against National Guard troops.
Dr Ruy Medina, director of Central Hospital in the city, told The Associated Press yesterday that the death toll had risen to 61, while about 120 were wounded in the violence.
Medina said nearly all of the injuries were from gunshots and 45 of the estimated 120 people who were wounded remained in hospital.
Relatives wept outside the prison during the violence, and cried at the morgue yesterday as they waited to identify bodies.
The riot was the latest in a series of deadly clashes in Venezuela’s overcrowded and often anarchical prisons, where inmates typically obtain weapons and drugs with the help of corrupt guards. Critics called it proof that the government is failing to get a grip on a worsening national crisis in its penitentiaries.
The gun battles seized attention amid uncertainty about President Hugo Chavez’s future, while he remained in Cuba recovering and undergoing treatment more than six weeks after his latest cancer surgery.
Government officials pledged a thorough investigation, while some critics said there should have been ways for the authorities to prevent such bloodshed.
The riot was the deadliest in nearly two decades. In 1994, more than 100 inmates died in the country’s bloodiest prison trouble on record, at a prison in the western city of Maracaibo. In 1994, about 60 inmates were killed in a riot in a Caracas prison.
Varela said the violence erupted on Friday when groups of inmates attacked National Guard troops who were attempting to carry out an inspection. She said the government decided to send troops to search the prison after reports of clashes between groups of inmates during the past two days.
“No one doubts that inspections are necessary procedures to guarantee prison conditions in line with international standards, but they can’t be carried out with the warlike attitude as (authorities) have done it,” said Humberto Prado, an activist who leads the Venezuelan Prisons Observatory, a watchdog group.
“It’s clear that the inspection wasn’t coordinated or put into practice as it should have been. It was evidently a disproportionate use of force,” Mr Prado said.
Illegal immigrants have injured five officers during a riot at a Lincolnshire detention centre, according to border officials.
Up to 40 detainees were involved in the incident at Morton Hall immigration removal centre in Swinderby which saw one detainee taken to hospital and led to 12 others being transferred to other centres.
A UK Border Agency (UKBA) spokesman said: “All our Immigration Removal Centres are overseen by an Independent Monitoring Board.
“Morton Hall is a safe place for detainees and staff. We will not tolerate any behaviour which might put anyone at risk of harm.”
Staff were injured on December 30, the UKBA said, while up to 50 detainees were also involved in a protest on Christmas Day, during which no-one was injured.
Both incidents were brought under control within an hour.
Morton Hall, a former women’s prison, was reopened as an immigration removal centre in 2011 after a £6 million refit. It holds up to 392 foreign national offenders, failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
The UKBA’s website states that inmates at the all-male centre have access to 24-hour medical services, a dentist, a “well-stocked” library with “a wide array of reading material in different languages as well as DVDs and CDs”.
There are also indoor badminton, soft tennis, volleyball and basketball courts.
In September last year, 18 asylum seekers went on hunger strike at Morton Hall because they did not want to be sent back to Afghanistan.
Two men have been handed lengthy jail sentences after being found guilty of taking part in a pre-planned gun attack on police officers during the summer riots in Birmingham last year.
Wesley Gray, 27, and Beniha Laing, 29, were linked to the shooting in the Aston area of the city by a pistol and a revolver seized by police two months later, the city’s Crown Court heard.
Gray and Laing both of no fixed abode, were found guilty of riot, possession of firearm with intent to endanger life, possession of firearms found in their possession on later occasion which was subsequently connected to the riot and reckless arson, West Midlands Police said.
Laing was sentenced to 35 years in prison and Gray was handed a 29-year term, the force said.
Over the last three weeks, Birmingham Crown Court heard how the men, who were part of a larger group of people and have been linked to a criminal gang, planned and orchestrated an attack on police on the ground as well as the force’s helicopter at the height of the disorder in the city when they knew that police resources were stretched.
West Midlands Police said officers were lured to The Bartons Arms pub on the night of Tuesday August 9 at the same time that other areas of Birmingham and the region were experiencing pockets of disorder.
The pub was broken into, ransacked and spirits and petrol were used to set fire to the building. The furniture from the pub was then used to barricade the main High Street. The group, all wearing black clothing and masks, were intent on causing serious disorder and impacting on local people and emergency services.
Local CCTV showed the group also attempting to break into nearby entertainment venue ‘The Drum’. The footage shows them hammering through glass in an attempt to obtain more furniture to block the roads.
A police unit of unarmed officers trained to deal with disorder arrived and attempted to disperse the crowd but was confronted by the group who threw missiles and goaded them.
Some of the group then discharged at least 12 shots, using a number of different firearms in the direction of the officers, police said.
Two prisoners who attacked prison officers and held a mutiny inside their jail near Huntingdon have been handed longer sentences.
Scott Taylor, 22, and Ali Njie, 22, were already serving sentences in HMP Littlehey when they decided to targetprison officers and cause disruption on “I” wing, Cambridgeshire Police said.
On January 10, Taylor came out of his cell with a boiling kettle without the lid and walked towards three prison officers.
A police spokesman added: “He then shouted ‘does anyone want any water?’ before throwing the boiling water over one officer. Taylor and Njie assaulted both officers before arming themselves with wooden legs they had ripped off chairs.
“They also began throwing chairs at the officers, which resulted in an officer’s finger being broken.”
Extra riot trained officers were called in to deal with the trouble but Taylor and Njie continued to fight them.
Taylor had denied prison mutiny, three counts of actual bodily harm and one count of grievous bodily harm with intent but was convicted following a two-week trial at Peterborough Crown Court.
Njie was convicted of prison mutiny, two counts of actual bodily harm and one count of grievous bodily harm with intent following the trial.
Taylor was serving an indefinite sentence at the prison for attempted murder and actual bodily harm at the time, and Njie was serving four years for rape and robbery.
Taylor was given a six-and-a-half year sentence while Njie was sentenced to five and a half years and they will serve these sentences after completing their previous terms.