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Violent and hostile protestors sentenced

|News, Violent crime

A violent and hostile gang of people who gathered outside the Suites hotel in Knowsley in February 2023 have been sentenced.

Four people who were convicted following a trial at Liverpool Crown Court in January 2024 were part of a larger group who threw missiles and paving slabs at police and set fire to a police van on Ribblers Lane in Kirkby on 10 February 2023.

suites hotel riots van

On the evening of the disorder, Merseyside Police received a report that a protest had been planned near a hotel that was housing asylum seekers. Merseyside Police deployed Police Officers at the site and a drone overhead to prevent disorder and capture any offending.

Several police officers also had body cameras to film any incidents along with specialist Evidence Gatherer officers. The crowd grew more hostile and violent as the evening went on and officers were bombarded with various missiles, rocks, bottles, concrete slabs, block paving and fireworks.

A number of police vehicles were damaged, and a police carrier van was set alight, causing thousands of pounds of damage. Police officers were injured during the disorder and one needed hospital treatment.

suites hotel police

Thomas Mills was arrested on the night but the other three, Paul Lafferty, Brian McPadden and Jonjo O'Donoghue, were identified later from video evidence gathered at the scene. They were all charged with violent disorder.

They denied they had been violent or hostile and said they had merely taken part in a peaceful protest, but after a trial at Liverpool Crown Court they were found guilty. They were sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court, on 18 March 2024, along with five others who previously pleaded guilty to violent disorder. 

Brian McPadden and Jonjo O'Donoghue were sentenced to three years and six months' imprisonment, and Thomas Mills and Paul Lafferty were sentenced to two years and eight months. 

Senior Crown Prosecutor David Jones of CPS Mersey-Cheshire said: “This was not a peaceful protest as these men claimed. It descended into violence and hostility– most of it directed at the police who had to use all their protective gear to protect themselves and prevent violence spilling over into the hotel.

“This has been a complex prosecution, which evolved as more people were identified from CCTV at the scene. Some pleaded guilty, others went to trial, but the hard work of both Merseyside Police and the Crown Prosecution Service has led to a successful conclusion.

“The right to peaceful protest is enshrined in law – but this protest descended into criminality and those involved have now been brought to justice.

“The disorder on that night shocked many in the local community and it is important that residents are assured that behaviour like this will meet with the full force of the law.”

At the conclusion of these proceedings, seventeen people will then have been sentenced following the events of that night.

Notes to editors

Those found not guilty:

  • Daniel Fulham, 37, cleared of violent disorder and the lesser charge of using abusive or threatening behaviour with intent to provoke violence.

Those who pleaded guilty:

  • Christopher Shelley, 44, Warren Cullen, 20, John Tippler, 59, Harry Boynton, 20, Liam Jones, 25. There are also seven youths who pleaded guilty to violent disorder who can’t be named because of their age.
  • Jared Skeete pleaded guilty and was sentenced earlier in the year. He was jailed for 3 years.

Those found guilty:

  • Brian McPadden, 61, Thomas Mills, 47, Paul Lafferty, 42, Jonjo O’Donoghue, 21.


  • Brian McPadden (DOB:05/10/1962) was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months' imprisonment on 18/03/2024 at Liverpool Crown Court. 
  • Thomas Mills (DOB: 08/11/1976) was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months' imprisonment on 18/03/2024 at Liverpool Crown Court. 
  • Paul Lafferty (DOB: 22/05/1981) was sentenced to 2 years and 8 months' imprisonment on 18/03/2024 at Liverpool Crown Court. 
  • Jonjo O'Donoghue (DOB: 18/09/2002) was sentenced to 3 years and 6 months' imprisonment on 18/03/2024 at Liverpool Crown Court. 
  • Liam Jones (DOB: 02/04/1998) was sentenced to 27 months' imprisonment on 18/03/2024 at Liverpool Crown Court. 
  • John Tippler (DOB: 16/04/1964) was sentenced to 2 years' imprisonment on 18/03/2024 at Liverpool Crown Court. 
  • Warren Cullen (DOB: 26/01/2003)  was sentenced to 20 months on 18/03/2024 at Liverpool Crown Court. 
  • Harry Boynton (DOB: 01/12/2003) was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment suspended for 18 months, with 200 hours of unpaid work, 40 days of rehabilitation (RAR) and an electronically monitored curfew for 3 months between 20:00-05:30, on 18/03/2024 at Liverpool Crown Court.
  • Christopher Shelley (DOB: 07/03/1979) is yet to be sentenced and remains on an outstanding arrest warrant. 

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