UK rapper Pa Salieu jailed for 33 months over mass brawl

Musician will go to prison on charges of violent conduct and possessing a bottle as a weapon relating to incident in 2018

Pa Salieu pictured at Warwick Crown court, 2 December 2022.
Pa Salieu at Warwick crown court. Photograph: Jacob King/PA

The British rapper Pa Salieu has been sentenced to 33 months in prison on charges of violent disorder and possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon in relation to his participation in a mass fight that took place outside a bar in his home town of Coventry in 2018.

Salieu, real name Pa Salieu Gaye, was among a group of nine men accused of chasing and cornering a 23-year-old man, known pseudonymously as “Bobby”. The fight allegedly broke out after Salieu’s friend Fidel Glasgow, grandson of the Specials singer Neville Staple, was stabbed to death aged 21. West Midlands police are still investigating the murder.

In March, Salieu was acquitted of engaging in violent disorder during the brawl but convicted of possessing a bottle as an offensive weapon, and had previously admitted to a second count of violent disorder relating to an attack on a man shortly after the brawl. In 2015, Salieu received a suspended sentence for possessing a knife.

Warwick crown court was shown CCTV footage of “Bobby” running away and being pursued by the group. The prosecutor claimed Salieu threw the bottle he had picked up towards “Bobby”; once they caught him, Salieu used a tree branch to hit him on the head four times, and kicked his body, Birmingham Live reports.

“Bobby” spent 10 days in hospital as a result, undergoing what the prosecution described as “immediate, extensive surgery”, and has since recovered. Salieu told the court that he had smashed the bottle to defend himself, claiming that he thought the man was armed. Judge Peter Cooke rejected Salieu’s claim.

The rapper’s lawyer, Jonathan Woodcock, asked for a suspended sentence and said there was a “realistic prospect of rehabilitation”.

Salieu is signed to Warner Records. He released his debut mixtape, Send Them to Coventry, in November 2020 and was named the winner of the BBC’s annual Sound Of … 2021 poll, which tips newcomer artists for future success.

In August 2022, he was blocked from performing at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony because he “failed a background check”, according to his post on Instagram at the time. Salieu said he had already “had to cancel 90% of my shows this year” as the Home Office would not process the paperwork needed for him to travel abroad until the court case was finished.

He continued: “I have fully cooperated with the process. Attended court on time every single day. I’ve consistently been trying to use my career to show people where I’m from that there is another life for us. One away from the roads. But what can you do if the police, the justice system and the Home Office don’t care about you and put everything possible in your way to stop you trying to get on with your life?”

Sentencing Salieu, the judge said: “You helped run Bobby to ground and set about him.”

He continued: “You are a young man who has already suffered impacts on your career as a result of these proceedings but I observe it is a career that has flourished nonetheless.”

He expressed sympathy for the loss of Salieu’s friend, and admiration for how he had used his fame to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Those are factors that speak well of you and must be taken into account in your favour,” said the judge. “I want you to focus on getting your life back on track and make the most of your talents, which I trust you will be able to do.”

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