Shocking footage shows rival families fight with machetes, hammers and axes at funeral
"This was an absolutely appalling incident that terrified those peacefully attending the cemetery in the middle of the day.”
Police in Wales have released images from a bloody machete battle which took place between rival families in a graveyard last August.
Men of varying ages are seen fighting a vicious brawl with bats, hammers, knives and axes in the middle of the day, as cars skid around tombstones and van windows are smashed.
"I think people were shocked by this incident - by the scale of it, the level of violence, the location, and the disrespect it showed to others,” said detective Carl Price of South Wales Police.
Vehicles were used as weapons to deliberately crash into parked cars and to intimidate and pursue people around the grounds during the melee on August 5, 2022.
Gravestones were damaged and a number of people were seriously injured. Nearby funerals were also badly disrupted.
At one stage, three of the brawlers intruded upon a cremation service for a mother-of-five by running into the chapel and spitting on the floor.
They drank water from a vase before hiding a weapon among the floral tributes, reportedly.
Car windows are seen being smashed in the footage as grown men run around covered in blood.
Cops were able to piece together what happened - how feuding families clashed when a convoy turned up at a graveside blessing attended by members of a rival family.
Men are seen jumping out of a van throwing bricks and slashing at each other with a variety of vicious implements, while other vehicles were used to deliberately crash into rivals.
As the macabre incident played out, a series of running battles were fought around the cemetery as the men sought each other out.
It emerged that the disturbance was just the latest in a series of clashes involving various families across south Wales including in Newport, Cardiff, Bridgend, and Swansea.
Detective Carl Price described the method used by police to catch the gangs involved.
“The group, who are all known to each other, committed violent offences and were seen using weapons against each other in this appalling incident.
“These crimes were solved using good old-fashioned detective work with extensive analysis of CCTV footage, dashcam and mobile phone footage, forensics, intelligence gathering, phone data analysis and collaboration with other forces,” he said.
Those identified by police - from teenagers up to men aged in their late 50s - were subsequently charged with offences including violent disorder, possession of offensive weapons, and dangerous driving. All eventually pleaded guilty.
Sentencing the defendants at Swansea Crown Court this week, judge Paul Thomas KC condemned the horrifying scenes.
He described how vehicles had been driven around the site "as if it were a racetrack" with lawns churned up and headstones damaged.
He said what lay behind the feud was unclear but the violence "came as no surprise" to the various factions, and many people had known trouble would erupt at the ceremony.
The judge said it was "beyond the realms of coincidence" that between them the parties to the conflict had at least one machete, lump hammer, baseball bat, pickaxe handle, shovel, and probably golf clubs, all ready for use.
Those involved received prison sentences ranging from eighteen months to three years:
James Coffey, 45, from Rumney, was jailed for two years and three months for violent disorder, possession of offensive weapon and dangerous driving.
Jeffrey Tawse and John Coffey, both 24 and from Rumney, were jailed for 18 months for violent disorder and possession of offensive weapon.
Patrick Joseph Murphy, 40, from Llanelli, was jailed for two years and eight months for violent disorder and possession of offensive weapon.
Andrew John Thomas, 40, from Llanelli, was jailed for three years for violent disorder and dangerous driving.
John Joe O'Brien, 53, from Llanelli, was jailed for 16 months for violent disorder and possession of offensive weapon.
Martin John O'Brien, 58, from Llanelli, was jailed for 16 months for violent disorder and possession of offensive weapon.
Paddy Murphy, 19, and John Murphy, 18, the teenage sons of Patrick Murphy, were given suspended jail sentences and ordered to undertake unpaid work.
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