Bike gang convicted − and ringleader jailed − over illegal roads rampage
A gang of off-road bike louts who ran amok on public roads during a lawless ‘Ride Out’ event have been convicted at court − as West Midlands Police warns it will not tolerate drivers who use the streets as race tracks.
The men − aged between 19 and 33-years-old − have all been convicted at court for causing public nuisance in what’s believed to be the largest ever such group prosecution for anti-social biking.
Ringleader Andrew “Dru" Tomlinson was today (14 March) jailed for two years, fellow biker Matthew Sidwell jailed for 12 months, while others were given suspended prison sentences and community orders.
Centre: Tomlinson. From top L-R clockwise: Ballanger, Bateman, Birch, Draper, Jones, Geordie West, Bentley, Ford, Tyler, Phillips, Saa and McDonald
They among a large group who took to scramblers, quad-bikes and mopeds for an illegal bike rally − marketed as a “Take Back the Streets" ride-out − through Solihull and Birmingham during a five-hour rampage on 26 June 2016.
Video footage filmed by Tomlinson − and boastfully uploaded to social media channels − shows the men causing chaos, blocking junctions, riding recklessly, pulling stunts and intimidating other road users.
The 29-year-old, from Falmouth Road in Hodge Hill, led the group from a rendezvous point in Station Road, Stechford, at around 1pm before setting off on their illegal ride out.
Cameras on board the police helicopter filmed gang members running red lights, driving over large grassed roundabouts, churning up parkland, and weaving between cars while pulling wheelies.
Top Row L-R - Sidwell, Birchall, Fattha. Bottom Row L-R: Keanue West, Kington, Nguyen
West Midlands Police was inundated with complaints from concerned members of the public and launched an investigation, trawling through social media and police video footage, to identify and catch the main offenders.
Investigators made dozens of arrests, seized more than 20 off-road bikes and charged 48 men with causing a public nuisance − and at Birmingham Crown Court this week (11-15 March) 29 of them were sentenced.
All but one of the men admitted the charge, including Tomlinson, with only 24-year-old Jack Bentley, from Marlborough Road, Castle Bromwich, denying the offence after claiming he was riding lawfully.
However, video footage showed him among a massed rank of riders causing carnage in Broad Street in Birmingham city centre and at another point is seen riding along a footpath from Bradford Road towards the Clock Island.
He was found guilty by a jury and given an eight-month suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry or 50 hours of unpaid work in the community.
Top row L-R: Frater, Smith, Fox. Bottom row L-R: Morton, Dore, Roye
West Midlands Police Chief Superintendent Dave Sturman, said: “There is no justification for this type of behaviour: they risk serious injury to themselves, other road users and members of the public. We have footage from this and other ‘ride outs’ showing bikers ramping up kerbs and speeding along pavements close to pedestrians − including a line of school children − and it’s scary to think of the injuries they could inflict.
“They acted as though they owned the road: holding up traffic and aggressively surrounding motorists who didn’t obey their commands.
“We hear bikers saying ‘we’re just having fun’ − but if these riders are law-abiding why do they wear face coverings and masks and ride around with no registration plates? It’s because they know they are doing wrong and are trying to stay anonymous.
“However, this operation shows that we will find and prosecute offenders. For them it means a criminal record, fines or a community order and the risk of a prison sentence…plus we’ll seize their bike and destroy it."
L-R clockwise: Wilson, Ward, Karim and Aston
And Mr Sturman added that police tactics to catch bike louts has progressed significantly since summer 2016.
He added: “We are now much more experienced in going after these types of offenders. We will use tyre-deflating stinger devices to contain groups of illegal bikers that pose a danger to road users and to disable their motorbikes bikes.
“And some officers are now equipped with a DNA spray which they can use to ‘tag’ offenders and their bikes. This is an invisible liquid, each can with its own unique DNA, which shows up under UV light − so should we seize the offender’s bike or clothing in future we can link it to a specific incident and provides great evidence.
“The public have told us they are fed up of bikers who behave in this way and who risk causing serious road collisions − and we are determined to rid them from the streets of the West Midlands."
The 27 other convicted men are:
• Matthew Sidwell (aged 30) formerly of Redfern Close, Chelmsley Wood, jailed for 12 months
• Kenny Nguyen (22) from Willow Drive, Handsworth, and Michael Morton (26) from Dulverton Road, Leicester, both given 18-month suspecded jail terms and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid community work
• Bradley Bateman (24) from Lockin Croft in Castle Vale; Nicholas Dore (27) Wardlow Road in Nechells; Kaine Fattha (22) from Wetherfield Road, Tyseley; and brothers Geordie (27) and Keanu West (21) from Frankley Beeches Road, Northfield, all given 12-month suspended jail terms and told to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.
• Joshua Birchall (19) from Chantry Crescent in Great Barr; Luke Fox (18) from Dagnell Road in Birmingham; Jermaine Saa (27) from Marksbury Close, Wolverhampton, and 24-year-old Ryan Wilson from Uttoxeter given eight-month suspended jail terms and ordered to carry out 100 hours of unpaid work.
• Adam Ballanger (24) from Partridge Road in Yardley; Kenny Kington (32) from Curley Green Way in Sheldon; John Mcdonald (27) from Ridfield Road in Birmingham; Robert Roye (25) from Livingstone Road, Handsworth; Jason Phillips (33) from Fifth Avenue, Lowhill, Wolverhampton; and Thomas Aston (25) from Plane Tree Road, Sutton Coldfield were given eight-month suspended prison sentences and ordered to carry or 50 hours of unpaid work in the community.
• Lewis Smith (19) from Nightingale Avenue, Smiths Wood, was gven a 12-month community order including 75 hours of unpaid work.
• Daniel Birch (24) from Riddfield Road, Bromford, and James Ford (21) from George William House, Stoke on Trent, were given 12-months community orders and 50 hours’ unpaid community work.
• Daniel Draper (27) from Bringewood Grove, Bartley Green, was given a 12-month community order including a 15-day rehabilitation course.
• James Tyler (20) from Keats Drive, Swadlingcote, Derbyshire; Kieron Frater (30) from Greenaleigh, Yardley Wood; and Daniel Jones (31) from Blackcat Close, Chelmsley Wood, were given 12-month conditional discharges.
Samuel Ward and Shaqeel Karim will be sentenced separately on 29 March; another 19 men were charged but were found not guilty.
Anyone with information on illegal, anti-social off-road biking − or who has photos or video of offenders in the street or in public spaces − is asked to call West Midlands Police on 101 so officers can take action.