Published: 00:00, 07 December 2016
| Updated: 16:09, 07 December 2016
A man jailed for taking part in a riot in Dover has a conviction for assaults during a demonstration against the building of a mosque.
Hooded Michael Wakefield, 45, was arrested after he was seen throwing a missile during January’s bust-up in the town centre.
But after pleading guilty to violent disorder, he tried to claim he could not leave the area when the protest with left-wingers turned violent.
Judge James O’Mahony jailed him for 18 months and told him he “utterly rejected” his account of being trapped.
“I have seen photographs of you . . . and you were making provocative gestures towards those of the left wing.
“The police were standing in a line keeping the two sides apart . . . there was nothing to stop anyone from going, if that’s what they wished to do.”
Rebecca Upton, defence barrister for Wakefield, of Polegate, East Sussex, said he had gone to demonstrate peacefully.
Wakefield later alleged that syringes and bottles filled with urine had been thrown at his group – but the prosecution rejected his claims.
Paul Valder, prosecuting, said: “There is no evidence of syringes or urine-filled bottles being used as missiles.”
He said the defendant was spotted in Effingham Street with right-wing supporters trying to outflank left-wing protesters on at least two occasions.”
Ms Upton said he had been hit by a number of missiles and had only put on a mask because left-wing supporters were photographing them.
The court heard how Wakefield has previous convictions for racially or religiously aggravated common assaults on three people during a demonstration against an east London mosque in September 2013.
The judge told him: “This was an appalling incident of violence on Dover’s streets.
“This wasn’t about politics. It was about law and order with the police trying to keep the peace between rival groups.
“There is nothing wrong with peaceful demonstrations but you had every opportunity to leave at any time.
“Instead you decided to stay and take your full part.”
More than 60 people have now been jailed for the rioting that took place on Saturday, January 30.
Kent Police figures up to November 24 showed that 62 people had already gone to prison
out of a total of 80 arrested. A total 67 had been charged.
Police had swooped on the thugs, from the far right and left wing factions, either on the day of the violence or in the following months.
Eighty arrests on both sides of the divide were made on the day and in following months.
That demonstration and counter-demonstration over immigration had been one of six in Dover from September 2015 to last May but it was by far the most violent.
One of the ugliest moments was a pitched battle between the two sides throwing stones from either end of Effingham Street.
In the follow-up protests, on April 2, violence was stifled by police smothering the area and keeping both sides firmly segregated.