Sixth Gang Member Guilty Of Riot Shooting

Lisa Dowd, Midlands correspondent
Sixth Gang Member Guilty Of Riot Shooting

A sixth member of a gang who tried to shoot down a police helicopter during last August's disorder has been found guilty of riot, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and reckless arson.

Jermaine Lewis, 27, from Oldbury, West Midlands, was part of a mob who "lured" police out onto the streets to attack them during riots in Birmingham.

Tyrone Laidley, Nicholas Francis, Renardo Farrell, all from the West Midlands, and Wayne Collins from Luton, were also convicted of riot, possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and reckless arson last week. 

A 17-year-old youth who cannot be named was found guilty of riot and possession of a firearm.

Joyah Campbell, 19, and another teenager, aged 17, were cleared of all charges.

The prosecution told Birmingham Crown Court that on the night of August 9 2011, a group of around 30 people, their faces covered, and some carrying petrol bombs, set fire to the Bartons Arms pub in the Newtown area of Birmingham with the occupants still inside, to provoke a police response.

When riot vans and officers arrived, "at least 12 shots" were fired at police and "as many as four guns were present" that evening. 

Officers were withdrawn for their own safety as "the bullets went over their heads".

Footage was shown to the jury that had been filmed from the force helicopter. It shows the craft tracking the gang as they dispersed. 

Then, one of the defendants Tyrone Laidley, is seen taking out a gun, he "stands holding it up and fires it towards the police helicopter...we can say it was fired because we can see the muzzle flash of the weapon being fired", said Andrew Lockhart, who was prosecuting.

"It was a pre-ordained attack on the police" said Detective Inspector Andy Bannister from West Midlands Police, "it's completely unusual, when the police arrive at an incident, in the majority of times the individuals with firearms make away, either get rid of the guns or run away, in this instance they stood and discharged the firearms at the police officers.

"The individual seen on the CCTV clearly takes aim at the helicopter, it was a deliberate attack", he added.

The prosecution said this riots trial was different, because it was not about looting. He said the gangs aim was to get a large number of police officers onto the "streets where they could be attacked".