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Five-year jail sentence after man admits riot charge

Benjamin Rankin

A 41-year-old man has been jailed for five years after admitting a charge of riot relating to the violence in Bristol city centre on Sunday 21 March.

Benjamin Rankin, of no fixed address, appeared at Bristol Crown Court today (Friday 17 September) for sentencing.

During the riot, Rankin threw missiles at officers, threw a bike into a fire which had engulfed a police van and tried to get into a police vehicle as an officer tried to drive it away from the rioters.

Judge James Patrick said the riot saw missiles thrown at officers and police vans attacked, demobilised and set on fire.

He said: “Officers were attacked and dragged into the crowd, separated from their colleagues. It is fortunate they were not more seriously hurt.

“Your behaviour was criminal and far exceeded anything that can be described as a lawful protest.

“You have pleaded guilty to the offence of riot. You were on a roof of the police station throwing missiles, someone was setting fire to the van and you provided cover to try and prevent him from being identified.

“The dehumanisation of officers is a big factor in this case and your remorse shows you have some empathy.”

The judge added that had Rankin been found guilty following a trial, the sentence would have been six years and nine months.

Ch Supt Carolyn Belafonte said: “Benjamin Rankin took part in some of the worst violence and disorder seen in Bristol for many years. He should be thoroughly ashamed of the role he played in the riot and for the fear and anxiety he caused within our communities.

“A total of 80 people have been arrested so far in what continues to be the largest investigation ever carried out by our force. To date, 35 people have been charged but this is far from over and all those people who instigated and took part in this wanton violence should be brought to justice for their shameful actions.

“A total of 37 people remain on our online gallery and we still need the public’s help to identify them.”

The gallery can be found here via this link

We’d like to remind all concerned that criminal proceedings relating to the events of Sunday 21 March are ongoing against other defendants and that they have a right to a fair trial.

It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.