Five city youths have pleaded guilty to participating in a night of mayhem during last year’s Bonfire Night celebrations.
For about three hours on 5 November 2017, gangs of around 50 youths caused in excess of £40,000 of damage by throwing fireworks at each other, members of the public, property and cars.
At Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday five youths, Lewis Park, 20, Dylan Martins, 18, Liam Willis, 19, Dylan McArdle, 19, and Connor Murray, 18, who all lived in the area at the time, pled guilty to being part of the mob.
Fiscal Depute, Rachel Aedy, described how residents in the area contacted the police expressing their fears at the actions of a large number of youths. One said the terror was similar to the Belfast riots, another that they were terrified and on edge all night and another that she was trapped in her home too scared to leave. Fireworks were being thrown at an unmarked police car near Craigentinny Primary School and officers were forced to withdraw. Ms Aedy said CCTV showed large numbers of youths wearing hoods and faces partially concealed and a car on fire. A black cab was forced to flee when fireworks were thrown under it and when an older man approached some of the youths, fireworks were thrown at him.
The Fiscal also described how a car was on fire in a bonfire and two other cars were burned out. Police officers had to call for more assistance and when a police convoy arrived fireworks were thrown at it. She added that when the Fire Service arrived they had to withdraw for safety reasons and an officer said that in 14 years service he had never witnessed public disorder so severe.
Sheriff Frank Crowe deferred sentence on the youths until November for reports and a Restriction of Liberty Assessment. All were allowed bail.
Last year’s Bonfire Night chaos saw emergency services inundated with over 250 calls.
A city-wide Community Improvement Partnership has now been set up to prevent a repeat of the disorder taking place this year.
Council leader Adam McVey said last month: “I think it will help avoid some of the problems we have had in the past. We are certainly not ignoring the situation as it is now and are robustly working with partners to make sure we have a safe, happy fireworks night.
“It includes enforcement and it’s co-ordination between police, fire and the council. There are lots of things we can do in isolation, but the co-ordinated action makes it much more effective.”
Cllr McVey has written to both Westminster and Holyrood governments, calling on tighter regulations to make sure fireworks are sold responsibly. He hopes a discussion can take place between all three parties, potentially through the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).