EDL leader Stephen Lennon convicted of assault

EDL founder Stephen Lennon Stephen Lennon had denied common assault

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The leader of the English Defence League (EDL) has been convicted of assault after headbutting a member of his group during a rally in Blackburn.

Stephen Lennon, 28, goaded his followers during a rally attended by 2,000 EDL members in April, Preston Magistrates' Court heard.

He verbally abused Alan McKee, 33, before attacking him.

Lennon who denied common assault, was found guilty of the charge. Sentencing was adjourned to 3 November.

The bench heard Mr Lennon launched a tirade against Mr McKee, calling him a "degenerate mug", before trouble broke out.

Mr McKnee was pulled from the crowd for his safety. But he later confronted Mr Lennon about his speech, the court was told.

Lennon, who was surrounded by his own security guards and EDL stewards, then stepped forward and headbutted Mr McKee.

Probation report

The EDL leader, of Luton, denied assault and said he had not targeted Mr McKee during his speech.

Lennon said the man he targeted was another man who he said was part of an EDL splinter group, the North East Infidels, intent on causing trouble.

The court heard from two police officers who told the court they were on hand when the incident happened and they clearly saw Lennon headbutt Mr McKee.

After a day-long trial, District Judge Peter Ward said that he believed the police officers and convicted Lennon of common assault.

The judge said he wanted a probation report on Lennon before passing sentence.

He said: "I don't think one can rule out a custodial sentence, but at the same time I'm keeping it open in light of the report and what is said to the court next time."

Sentencing was adjourned until 3 November when police will apply for a criminal (anti-social behaviour order) to prevent Lennon attending EDL rallies.

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