Christmas in prison for ravers

TEN men arrested following an illegal rave in part of Thetford Forest will be spending Christmas behind bars.

TEN men arrested following an illegal rave in part of Thetford Forest will be spending Christmas behind bars.

They have been sent to prisons and Young Offenders Institutions for periods ranging from four to six months.

An 11th man, Stuart Brown, 25, from The Street, Bergh Apton, Norfolk who had handed himself in to police was given a four-and-a-half month sentence but suspended for 12 months.

He was told that he must also complete 300 hours of unpaid community work.


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Judge John Holt, sitting at Ipswich Crown Court, told Brown that he accepted he had not been part of the main group which confronted police at Kings Forest at Ingham in July last year and had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity.

Before sentencing the men, Judge Holt said they had caused fear and distress for local residents as well as environmental damage within the forest which is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest.

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Referring to statements made by local residents, Judge Holt said people had been left in genuine fear for their safety by the arrival of so many people and vehicles in the forest.

The situation had been exacerbated by the presence of people among the 1,000-strong crowd who were drinking to excess and taking illegal drugs, said Judge Holt.

The actions of Suffolk police, backed up by officers from two neighbouring counties, to shut down the rave had been "sensible and proportionate", he added.

On Monday, the court heard how almost 120 police officers from Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex - many dressed in full riot gear - had to be drafted in to shut down the unlicensed event.

The judge said the organisers of the rave had failed to make basic health and safety provision, made no arrangement to provide first aid and left the Forestry Commission with a bill for £2,484 for the subsequent clear-up.

Kirk Austin, 18, of The Causeway, Stow Bridge, Kings Lynn, Wayne Saxton, 20, of Mellis Road, Yaxley, and Christopher Hood, 18, of The Hemplands, Lowestoft were each sent to a Young Offenders Institution for four months.

Judge Holt jailed Adrian Rowbotham, 27, of Kings Green, Fairstead, Kings Lynn, and Luke Parker, 25, of Norwich Road, Brockford, for four months each; Wayne Roberts, 24, of Lake Avenue, Bury St Edmunds, and Craig Kirtley, 24, of Verneill Avenue, Stowmarket, for four-and-a-half months each and Christopher Kerry, 23, of Church Close, Roydon, Norfolk, who had also been in breach of a conditional discharge for an assault offence, to a total of six months.

Judge Holt said that Roberts had a "deplorable" record of previous convictions involving violence. Parker had taken cocaine and Ecstasy, there was a "theme of violence" running through Kerry's previous convictions, said Judge Holt.

All nine men had pleaded guilty to a charge of violent disorder.

Also jailed were Michael Hodges, 20, of Finborough Road, Stowmarket, who admitted conspiracy to organise an unlicensed event and aiding and abetting violent disorder. He got four months and ten weeks.

Joshua Barrington-Lee, 22, of Canterbury Close, Ipswich, who admitted conspiracy to organise an unlicensed event, was jailed for four months. Judge Holt said he accepted that Barrington-Lee had made some efforts to stop the violence.

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