Eighteen jailed over ‘disgraceful’ Swansea Mayhill riots
Eighteen people have been jailed for their role in a “disgraceful” riot that broke out in Swansea last year.
Violence and disorder erupted in the inner-city area of Mayhill in May 2021 following the death of a local teenager, with cars torched and homes vandalised while residents and police officers were intimidated and attacked.
The disturbance began during a peaceful vigil for 19-year-old Ethan Powell on Waun Wen Road, and over two hours descended into a scene which one witness said resembled “a warzone”.
A total of 27 people aged between 15 and 44 were charged with offences relating to the riot – an incident which made headlines around the UK.
All pleaded guilty accept for Kye Dennis, 25, of Fforestfach, Swansea, who was found not guilty following a jury trial.
Judge Paul Thomas described the incident as “disgraceful” and “the worst outbreak of mass violence” that had occurred in Swansea during his lifetime.
He said the sentences he had imposed would send a “clear message to reassure the residents of this city that such behaviour will not be tolerated”.
The 17 men and one woman were sentenced at Swansea Crown Court on Monday to a total of over 84 years in prison. All were told they would serve half in custody and the rest on licence.
Christopher Munslow, 23, of Eigen Crescent, Mayhill, was jailed for three-and-a-half years; Lewis James, 21, of Trawler Road, Swansea Maritime Quarter, for five years; Connor Beddows, 22, of Merlin Crescent, Townhill for four years and three months; William Smolden, 24, of Eigen Crescent, Mayhill, for three-and-a-half years; and Joshua Cullen, 32, of Teilo Crescent, Mayhill, for five-and-a-half years.
Niamh Cullen, 19, of Moorview Road, Gendros, was sentenced for two years and eight months; Ryan Owen, 20, of Broughton Avenue, Portmead, was sentenced to four years; Keiron Argent, 18, of Glyndwr Place, Townhill, was given three years and two months; and Keiran Smith, 20, of Creidiol Road, Mayhill was given four years. All four will serve their time at a young offenders’ institute due to their age when the offences were committed.
A number of the defendants appeared via videolink from prison including Michael Parsons, 37, of Matthew Street, Dyfatty who was jailed for a further six years and three months; Paul Jones, 45, of Waun Wen Road, Mayhill, who got four-and-a-half years; Jahanzaib Malik, 21, of Llangyfelach Road, Brynhyfryd who got four years; Aaron Phillips, 24, of Middle Road, Gendros, who got six years and three months; Tyrone Langan, 28, of Llangyfelach Road, Brynhyfryd, who got five years and three months; and Dean Price, 41, of Joseph Davies Close, Waun Wen, who was given five-and-a-half years.
Ryan Sarsfield, 26, of Waun Wen Road, Mayhill, received four years and three months, including two concurrent three-month sentences for actual bodily harm (ABH) and criminal damage.
Mitchell Meredith, 20, of Margaret Street, Port Tennant, who was called a “major rabble-rouser” was sentenced at the same time for domestic violence charges against his former girlfriend and given six years in prison and a five-year restraining order.
Kian Hurley, 24, of Waun Wen Road, Mayhill, was sentenced to six years and nine months after his version of events was rejected at a Newton Hearing.
Judge Thomas said: “Those privileged to live in the city of Swansea consider it a generally safe, peaceful place to live and to raise a family.
“But in May of 2021, you all took part in the worst outbreak of mass violence that has occurred here in my lifetime and far beyond.
“One witness described the scene on Waun Wen Road as resembling a warzone. It was certainly an episode that has scarred the community deeply.
“Seven families either have left or want to leave the area – they have uprooted their lives because of the mayhem you collectively unleashed.”
Judge Thomas said the riot initially involved cars being damaged, set on fire and rolled down the steep residential street in order to “whip up those present” and cause “significant alarm” to the residents.
The prosecution has previously detailed how some of the vehicles, including a black Vauxhall Astra and silver Ford Ka, were either bought or stolen specifically to be used in the ruckus and that organisers were using social media to encourage hoards of people to attend to “light up Mayhill”.
Members of the public were intimidated and attacked, including resident of the street Adam Romain who had his car torched and a brick thrown through his window while his wife and children were inside.
When police arrived on the scene they were met with aggression and pelted by missiles, including bottles, poles, bricks taken from garden walls and garden furniture, before having to retreat to safety.
Around £23,000 of damage was caused and six police officers were injured.
The family of Mr Powell, who was found to have died from an “unintentional drug overdose”, condemned the actions of the rioters.
An independent inquiry into the riot found “significant failings” in South Wales Police’s response to the riot, prompting the force to make a public apology.
Judge Thomas added: “The tragic death of a young man was shamelessly and cynically hijacked for the purposes of criminal mischief – not out of any respect for him or for his family.
“The riot that ensued was not borne of discontent or of social grievance but by a desire for mass entertainment.”
The judge commended the officers involved in investigating the riot.
A number of youth defendants will be sentenced on Tuesday.
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