The families of three men who were killed in last years Birmingham riots broke down in tears as footage was played to a court of the victims being flung into the air as they were struck by a car.
Mr Justice Flaux cleared Birmingham Crown Court after a heated argument broke out in the public gallery soon after CCTV footage of the moment of impact was shown to jurors.
Haroon Jahan, 21, and brothers Shazad Ali, 30, and Abdul Musavir, 31, were hit by a Mazda car on Dudley Road, in the Winson Green area of the city, in the early hours of August 10 last year, prosecutor Tim Spencer QC told the court, in what he described as a “chariot charge”.
The court heard how the fatal collision took place at the height of the riots. Rioters had targeted businesses, shops, a petrol station and a social club during previous nights, and the three men had been trying to protect their shops and homes from looters amid escalating tensions between gangs of youths in cars and groups of mainly Asian men from the community.
They were pronounced dead in hospital, with the incident becoming a seminal moment during the troubled days after pleas for calm by Tariq Jahan, father of Haroon, were credited with quelling the spread of further violence.
Mr Spencer told the court that they had been deliberately targeted. The court heard how the defendants were in three separate cars: a Ford Fiesta, a Mazda and an Audi, which was seen swerving as it travelled along the road while the other two cars held back.
Moments later, the court saw, an arm was extended from the driver’s side of the Mazda – a gesture which the prosecutor described as “a signal” to the other drivers which indicated their intention to cause harm.
“Did you see the arm?” he asked jurors. “It is a signal. A signal to those in the Fiesta, particularly the driver, to go.”
He added: “The driving you have seen was not chance, it was not accidental. It was deliberate and co-ordinated. It was the modern day equivalent of a chariot charge. And it was deadly.”
Loud gasps came from the public gallery, with family members sobbing as “shocking” footage of the impact was played.
“They were killed in shocking circumstances,” Mr Spencer said. “It would be very surprising if you did not find the circumstances of their deaths shocking. You need, I am afraid, to be prepared to be shocked, ladies and gentlemen.”
Ryan Goodwin, 21, Shaun Flynn, 26, Juan Ruiz-Gaviria, 31, Joshua Donald, 27, Everton Graham, 30, Adam King, 24, Ian Beckford, 30, and Aaron Parkins, 18, are on trial on three counts of murder. They deny the charges.
The trial, expected to last 10 weeks, continues.