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13 bikers jailed over Halloween ‘Mad Max’ ride-out in city centre

The judge said such behaviour could not be tolerated.

Thirteen bikers who caused chaos in a “Mad Max-style” Halloween ride-out in a city centre have been jailed.

They were handed sentences of between 12 months and two years for their parts in the event, which saw more than 100 riders on motorcycles and quad bikes disrupting traffic and riding through pedestrianised areas in Leeds.

David Armitage, who organised the event through social media, was filmed encouraging “carnage” and telling riders to “shut down” the city centre.

Police said the lawlessness and fear caused on October 31 led to people comparing the scene to Mel Gibson film Mad Max.

Sentencing the defendants at Leeds Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Marson QC said: “This is a case which calls for a deterrent sentence.

“Behaviour of this sort, having serious effects on this city, cannot be tolerated.”

The bikers, some not wearing helmets and with their faces covered, were seen speeding, weaving in and out of vehicles, riding on pavements, in bike and bus lanes, through pedestrian-only areas and red lights and on the wrong side of the road, and performing stunts.

Judge Marson said bikes were seen driving on pavements towards children out trick-or-treating, customers at a supermarket were unable to leave and the store had to close early.

Police received around 160 calls from the public and took the decision to close a section of Kirkstall Road.

The court heard that Armitage, who did not take part in the event due to injury but was shown encouraging the riders in a Facebook live video, said the ride-out was to raise money for the family of 17-year-old Sophie Smith, who was murdered by her partner.

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David Armitage (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

He claimed to have raised around £400 but the court heard that the family had received no money and did not want to associate themselves with the event.

Judge Marson said: “It was said by some that this had begun as some sort of charity event organised by Armitage. It seems clear to me that the reality is that that was no more than an excuse for a large, unlawful gathering in the city.”

He told Armitage: “You were clearly enjoying the chaos which ensued.”

The defendants, all from Leeds, were David Armitage, 26, of Brookfield Road; Omar Ahmed, 24, of Stonegate View; Ashley Benson, 25, of Whingate Road; Michael Clough, 28, of Torre View; Ben Colley, 26, of Butterbowl Road; Dean Fawcett, 29, of Intake View; Nicholas Flaherty, 30, of Prospect Street; Rachel Taylor, 30, of Grange Park Walk; Joshua Hawley, 23, of Mead Grove; Dylan Lockwood, 23, of Torre Grove; Adam Nicholson, 26, of Bellmount Close; Anton Rojas, 26, of Skelton Avenue; and Jamie Ayres, 26, of Lupton Avenue.

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Nicholas Flaherty (West Yorkshire Police/PA)

All 13 pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to “causing a public nuisance by participating in a large-scale procession of motorbikes and similar vehicles that rode around Leeds in a manner that interfered with the comfort, enjoyment and safety of the public”.

Colley also admitted driving while disqualified and without insurance and Flaherty admitted perverting the course of justice by posting a Facebook message warning people to get rid of their bikes.

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