Teenager in court after violent protests near asylum seekers hotel in Knowsley

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Lit fireworks were thrown at officers and a police van was set alight after being attacked with hammers.

A man has appeared in court charged with offences following Friday’s violent protest outside a hotel used to house asylum seekers.

Jared Skeete, 19, of Irwell Close, Aigburth, Liverpool is charged with beating an emergency worker and violent disorder. Curly haired Skeete, wearing a grey top, appeared at Wirral Magistrates’ Court where he spoke only to give his date of birth and address.

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The case was sent to Liverpool Crown Court on the application of the prosecution. After consideration of a bail application by his solicitor Georgia Maudsley, the Chair of the Bench, Melanie Beverly announced that he was being further remanded in custody to appear at the higher court on March 13.

Skeete’s mother was in the public gallery for the hearing, which lasted about half an hour, and she left court looking distressed.

After the incident on Friday evening Merseyside Police said that they had been called to Ribblers Lane, Kirkby, to facilitate a peaceful protest and counter protest at around 6.30pm that evening.

But violence erupted near the Suites Hotel and missiles including lit fireworks were thrown at officers and a police van was attacked by offenders and set alight. A police officer and two members of the public received slight injuries during the incident.

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A total of 14 people, aged between 13 and 54 including two women, who were also arrested have been conditionally bailed pending the outcome of police enquiries.

A police spokesperson said at the weekend that police were continuing to gather CCTV, drone footage and other evidence to identify those involved.

The spokesperson added: “Once again, we would remind people to pass this information directly to police as social media speculation and comment can jeopardise live investigations.”

Screengrab from video taken with permission from the facebook account of Tony Broster of protesters during a rally in Prescot, Merseyside. Picture: PAScreengrab from video taken with permission from the facebook account of Tony Broster of protesters during a rally in Prescot, Merseyside. Picture: PA
Screengrab from video taken with permission from the facebook account of Tony Broster of protesters during a rally in Prescot, Merseyside. Picture: PA | PA

A spokeswoman for SHARe Knowsley, a charity which supports refugees and asylum seekers, said: “Thankfully, Friday night is not a reflection of the feelings of the people of Merseyside, which has a great history of welcoming people. The outpouring of support we have received since Friday night has been overwhelming.”

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On Saturday, Home Secretary Suella Braverman condemned disorder at the protest, adding that the “alleged behaviour of some asylum seekers is never an excuse for violence”.

Shadow levelling up secretary and Wigan MP, Lisa Nandy, described the protest as “absolutely horrendous”, and criticised the Government for creating a “toxic mix” of anti-migrant rhetoric and poor service provision.

Dispersal Zone in place

Merseyside Police have confirmed they will continue with a Dispersal Zone which was introduced at the weekend, following the violent disorder in Knowsley.

Map of Dispersal Zone in Knowsley. Image: Merseyside PoliceMap of Dispersal Zone in Knowsley. Image: Merseyside Police
Map of Dispersal Zone in Knowsley. Image: Merseyside Police | Merseyside Police

It will run at 1pm on Monday 13 February and continue for 48 hours until 12.59pm on Wednesday 15 February. It gives officers powers to remove people who are engaging in antisocial behaviour or are likely to become involved in such incidents.

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Superintendent Karl Baldwin from Knowsley Local Policing, said: “Since the order was introduced on Saturday, we have issued several dispersal notices to those looking to gather without good reason in this area. We will continue to use these powers to ensure that there is no repeat of the scenes witnessed on Friday. Additional patrols will be in the area to enforce this.

“The incident on Friday put those in the community and our officers at risk. We have made 15 arrests at this time, all of whom remain under investigation. A dedicated investigation team will be reviewing all available evidence to identify and bring to justice those involved in the disorder.

“We have introduced this dispersal zone to give officers the additional powers to approach people they suspect may be there to commit offences. There is no excuse for the violence that was carried out on Friday and we will arrest anyone who fails to heed this advice.

“We know people are concerned, but much of that concern is based on misinformation and rumour. There is no excuse for resorting to violence. We know that those involved in the violent activity on Friday used rumours and allegations as an excuse to commit violence and intimidate members of the public. Everyone has the right to live their lives in peace and without fear. We are listening to the concerns of our communities in Knowsley and will be continuing to do so this week.

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“The suspicious incident last week in Kirkby is, like all such allegations, under investigation by detectives and we always encourage anyone with information on suspected crime in your area to come forward directly to police or anonymously via Crimestoppers. Social media posting and sharing of unsubstantiated rumour is not the way to raise concerns to the police, it could jeopardise any investigation and put innocent people in harm’s way”.