A gang of thugs launched lit fireworks at Liverpool fans as they celebrated the Reds winning the Premier League in 2020.
James Gibney, 39; Peter Mallon, 20; Youssif Ahmed, 28; Quaynan Browne, 21; and Claire Rowson, 38, all appeared at Liverpool Crown Court for sentencing on Friday after they pleaded guilty to affray.
A video compilation of their behaviour on the night of June 26 and the early hours of June 27, 2020, showed individual members throwing lit fireworks and other missiles, attacking police vehicles, fighting in the street, and at one point climbing all over a Greggs lorry which had been brought to a halt on a city centre street.
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The large gathering of fans was largely centred on the Pier Head and The Strand, before moving into the area around Castle Street and ending up on Victoria Street. The huge crowds were in contravention of the strict Covid lockdown rules in force at the time.
In the case of Ahmed, footage showed him throwing a number of bottles towards police vehicles, and also spitting in their direction.
Video footage taken on Browne’s own phone, meanwhile, showed him throwing a lit firework towards a group of people outside the Liver Building. He was also one of a group of people who climbed on to the Greggs lorry which was brought to a halt in Castle Street, with some getting on to the roof of the vehicle. The terrified driver inside said the group were “swinging on the vehicle like a pack of animals.”
Gibney was shown throwing a smoke canister across The Strand in the direction of police. He also used a large Liverpool FC flag he was carrying to strike a police carrier which was attempting to come to the rescue of the stranded Greggs lorry driver. Others were throwing missiles including bottles at the police vehicle, and aiming kicks at the bodywork, forcing it to reverse.
Gibney was further caught up in an ugly confrontation in Victoria Street. He appeared to be assaulted by a man from another group of fans, which left him on the floor. After he had got up, he went on to rain blows on members of the group who had inflicted violence on him. Peter Mallon was also caught up in the scuffle involving Gibney.
Finally, Rowson – who is Mallon’s mum and who was also accompanied by her 15-year-old daughter – was filmed banging her fists on the police carrier in Castle Street and taunting officers inside.
Zahia Badri, prosecuting, said: “The use of sustained violence lasted an hour. As the night wore on, the atmosphere became increasingly charged and violent. It was noted that some people were taking cocaine.
“There were innocent bystanders out on the street who would have felt threatened by what they were witnessing.”
Each of the defendants were defended by their own counsel at the sentencing hearing, with the exception of Browne who chose not to be represented. They accepted responsibility and expressed remorse on behalf of their clients for the part they had played in the disorder that night, and blamed their actions on excessive drinking.
Recorder Mr David Knifton QC said: “The evening of June 26, 2020, should have been a proud day for many in this city, as Liverpool FC achieved a prize which had eluded them for 30 years, being crowned Premier League champions.
“Despite the strict Covid lockdown restrictions in place at that time, large crowds gathered illegally at the Pier Head on that day. By the evening, a 1,000-strong crowd had gathered, intoxicated and jumping on to the traffic. Officers attempted to disperse the crowd, but many were intent on remaining. The mood had changed from high-spirited celebration to a violent and angry scene.
“This was a case of serious or sustained violence which left people in severe fear or distress. Some were left hiding in doorways crying, attempting to avoid missiles being thrown.
“Each individual act of violence or disorder inflames or encourages others. Anyone engaging in mob violence must expect severe sentences to deter others. In my judgement your offences were so serious that nothing other than a custodial sentence can suffice.”
Gibney, of St Paul’s Close, Kirkby, was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment, plus another 10 months for a separate offence of dangerous driving.
Mallon, of Broad Lane, Kirkby, who is already serving a sentence for a separate offence of wounding, was given 18 months’ detention in a young offenders institute, to be served in addition to his current five-year sentence.
Ahmed, of Fairfield Street, Kensington, who appeared by videolink from prison, was sentenced to 21 months plus another four for breach of a suspended sentence.
Browne, of Kirkburn Close, Toxteth, was sentenced to 21 months’ imprisonment, while Rowson, of Shaftesbury Avenue, Kirkby, was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment.