EIGHTEEN people have been sentenced for their roles in a “disgraceful” riot that broke out in Swansea last May.
Following the death of a local teenager, violence and disorder erupted in Mayhill last year, with cars set on fire and residences vandalised, while locals 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 claimed resembled “a warzone”.
A total of 27 people aged 15 to 44 were charged with riot-related offences following the incident, which made headlines across the UK.
All pleaded guilty except for Kye Dennis, 25, of Fforestfach, Swansea, who was found not guilty following a jury trial.
Judge Paul Thomas called the incident “disgraceful” and “the worst outbreak of mass violence” that had happened in Swansea in 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”.
On Monday, December 19, 17 men and one woman were sentenced to more than 84 years total in jail at Swansea Crown Court. All were told they would serve half their sentences in custody and the other half 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 commented: “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.”
The riot began with cars being vandalised, set on fire, and rolled down the steep residential street in order to “whip up those present” and cause “significant alarm” to the residents, according to Judge Thomas.
The prosecution has already described how several of the vehicles, including a black Vauxhall Astra and silver Ford Ka, were either bought or stolen especially 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 harassed and attacked, including Adam Romain, a resident of the street, who had his car set on fire and a brick hurled through his window while his wife and children were inside.
When police arrived on the scene, they were met with hostility and attacked with missiles such as bottles, poles, bricks stolen from garden walls, and garden furniture, forcing them to flee to safety.
Approximately £23,000 of damage was caused and six police officers were injured during the riot.
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.
Several youth defendants will be sentenced on Tuesday, December 20.