Two hooded yobs who were part of a gang that shot at a police helicopter as well as officers on the ground during last year’s riots have been jailed for a total of 64 years.
Beniha Laing, 29, and Wesley Gray, 27, made up a mob who fired at the West Midlands Police helicopter after luring cops to the scene by firebombing a pub.
The violence erupted in Birmingham last year when officers were forced to run for safety as windows behind them were shattered by bullets being fired from four different guns.
Police had been dispatched to deal with reports of a fire at the Bartons Arms pub in the Newtown area of the city on August 9 last year.
When the officers arrived on the scene they were faced with a group of masked and hooded youths armed with bats and various items of furniture taken from the pub – which they used to barricade the High Street.
Members of the gang discharged at least 12 shots at officers and shocking CCTV footage then shows others taking aim and firing a gun at the force helicopter on two occasions.
Birmingham Crown Court heard how the men planned and orchestrated an attack on police at the height of the disorder in the city when they knew that police resources were stretched.
It was finally brought to and end when firearms officers attended the scene and a number of arrests were made.
In June this year six men – aged between 20 and 27 – were jailed for a total of 124 years after they were convicted of riot, arson and firearms possession with intent to endanger life.
And yesterday Laing and Gray were found guilty of similar riot and firearms offences following a three week trial – and were jailed for 35 and 29 years respectively.
Following the case, Detective Inspector Andy Bannister, from West Midlands Police, said: “On the night of 9 August, approximately 40 people were on the streets near the Bartons Arms pub.
“They had planned an orchestrated attack on police officers who were deployed on the night.
“A number of individuals are already serving lengthy sentences following a trial earlier this year regarding this investigation and today we have secured further convictions against other people involved.
“Despite the culmination of this trial, the work does not stop here.
“We are continuing to look at using different methods of intervention to address the behaviour of other individuals who were part of that group on that August night.”
The court heard on 7 October, 2011 a Fegarmy 9mm pistol and ammunition was found at the address of Laing’s friend Janine Francis, 25, following a planned police operation.
The firearm was examined revealing that it was one of the weapons used on the evening of the attack and also Gray’s DNA was found on the gun.
A second firearm was seized on 19 October when Laing was handed a bag by Nadeen Banbury, 25, which contained a St Etienne revolver and ammunition which was also identified as one of the other weapons used that August night.
Yesterday the two women were found guilty of possession of a weapon and ammunition.
Francis was jailed for seven and a half years while Banbury was sentenced to five years in prison.
Neil Fielding, special casework lawyer from the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Complex Casework Unit, said: “These individuals are dangerous men – supported in their criminality by the two women convicted today – who used last year’s disorder as an opportunity to put the public and the emergency services at risk.
“They deliberately targeted unarmed police officers putting their lives in grave danger in a calculated and cowardly manner.
“The conclusion of this case demonstrates that the partners working together within the criminal justice system will do everything in their power to bring dangerous offenders such as these to justice.”
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