Man denies driving into anti-immigration protesters, says they ‘threw’ themselves in front of car
Stephen Bedford (36) claimed they "threw themselves in front of my car" as he "tried to get away from a racist mob"
An audio-visual technician has denied intentionally driving into a group of anti-immigration protesters in Dublin and claimed they "threw" themselves in front of his car.
Stage rigger Stephen Bedford (36) with an address at a homeless hostel, on Usher's Quay, Dublin 8, was charged with dangerous driving after a protester was hospitalised on Thursday.
He faced objections to bail when he appeared before Judge Bryan Smyth at Dublin District Court on Thursday.
Garda Eoin Cannon told the court that Bedford had "strong political and moral beliefs".
A protest in Dublin's north inner city led to a "tense standoff" with his counter-demonstration.
They often turned violent, so gardai intervened, he explained.
The court heard that Bedford, who has not yet indicated a plea, was advised to leave for his own safety.
He left at about 7.30 pm and drove off in his jeep-like car. At one stage, two people from the other protest were on his bonnet.
One was hospitalised, but the level of injury was not known.
The court heard Bedford made certain admissions, and he "live-streamed it onto Facebook via his phone". Footage of the incident was shown in court.
His barrister Glen Lynch said Bedford and a group of 60 to 100 were there to demonstrate against "anti-immigration protesters".
The court heard there was a lot of animosity between them. Bedford was using a PA system and believed the other group was "racist and far-right".
The court heard Bedford maintained he was threatened and left but came across a second branch of the protesters.
Counsel said Bedford tried to drive slowly.
The garda agreed with counsel that the footage shown in court did not have the audio.
Counsel said his client "inadvertently came across a second branch of protesters", and that led him to "flee for his life".
The court heard that Bedford claimed they had threatened to kill him previously.
However, Garda Cannon said his client could have used four other routes, and he told the court there was no official record that the accused had made a formal complaint about threats.
The court had heard that he would usually stream his demonstrations on Facebook.
Bedford gave evidence and told the court that the anti-immigration group was inciting racist attacks in Dublin. He claimed they were "akin to the Ku Klux Klan" and "organised race riots and hatred on the streets of Dublin".
He said protesters were kicking his car and shouting, "that's him, that's him". He claimed they "threw themselves in front of my car" as he "tried to get away from a racist mob".
Bedford told the court that he worked on a casual basis and resided in a hostel.
Judge Smyth granted bail and noted the accused agreed to conditions.
He ordered him to appear again next month and told him to sign on three days a week at a garda station and not to attend demonstrations involving anti-immigration protests.
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