An EDL thug who stormed a peaceful protest before hurling a lit firework has walked free from court.
Anthony Crawford sparked pandemonium when he lobbed the explosive at anti-jubilee protesters as they gathered for a rally in Newcastle city centre.
It landed in the hood worn by Barnaby Drew, from Byker, Newcastle, who was left with burns after it exploded on his shoulder and set fire to his hair. The 19-year-old’s pals patted down his body to stop it spreading, and the force of the blast burned a hole in his jumper. He was left partially deafened when the firework perforated his eardrum.
But now, after admitting one charge of assault by beating, Crawford, 22, of Elmway, Chester-le-Street, County Durham, has escaped a prison term after magistrates handed him a 15-week suspended sentence.
And they ordered Crawford to pay his victim £150 in compensation for the terrifying incident. Crawford joined a group of EDL protesters at the Rose & Crown pub, on Newcastle’s Newgate Street, for a pre-arranged meeting on June 4.
Later he sparked mayhem when he threw two bottles and the firecracker as trouble flared during scuffles in front of shoppers at Newcastle’s Grey’s Monument where the EDL and anti-jubilee protesters clashed.
Sue Baker, prosecuting, told Newcastle Magistrates’ Court: “He’s thrown two bottles of water at the protestors and then a firework which caused minor injuries to Barnaby Drew.”
Crawford’s legal team told the court he was handed the lit firework before throwing it into the crowd and he had not intended to cause injury.
Crawford, who works two days a week as a volunteer, admitted one charge of assault by beating and one count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause fear or provoke unlawful violence.
He was handed two 15-week sentences to run concurrently, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to carry out 100 hours’ unpaid work and was made the subject of a 12-month supervision order.