An activist accused of driving into anti-immigration protesters in Dublin during an incident live-streamed on social media has told a court he wants to face trial before a jury.
Audiovisual technician and stage rigger Stephen Bedford (36), with an address at a hostel on Usher’s Quay, Dublin 8, remains on bail with strict terms.
He was charged earlier with dangerous driving after a protester was hospitalised on February 15th and appeared again at Dublin District Court on Thursday.
Judge Bryan Smyth noted that gardaí were ready to send the case file to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for directions concerning possible further charges.
A seven-week adjournment was sought; however, Mr Bedford asked for a shorter remand.
The court heard he wished to leave the country in about three weeks for three to six months for work.
Counsel said a variation of his bail terms was required, and Garda Eoin Canon, the investigating officer, was amenable subject to being provided with proof.
Mr Bedford complained about the time extension granted to gardaí. Judge Smyth replied that it was not unreasonable because the alleged offence was relatively recent.
He was disposed to grant the adjournment sought; otherwise, Mr Bedford would have to return to court on a week-by-week basis.
Mr Bedford then told the court, “I would like to request a trial by jury,” and asked for his trial date to be set.
However, Judge Smyth said further charges were possible.
He adjourned the case until June 8th for the application to vary his bail terms.
At his first hearing in February, Mr Bedford claimed people “threw” themselves in front of his car. 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 stand-off” with his counter-demonstration.
He explained that they often turned violent, so gardaí intervened, and Mr Bedford was advised to leave for his safety.
He went at about 7.30pm and drove off in his jeep-like car. The court has heard that two people from the other protest were on his bonnet at one stage.
One was hospitalised, but the level of injury was not stated.
The court heard Mr Bedford allegedly “live-streamed it onto Facebook via his phone”.
The defence had said a group of 60 to 100 were there to demonstrate against “anti-immigration protesters”, and there was a lot of animosity between them.
Mr Bedford used a PA system and believed the other group was “racist and far-right”.
The court heard Mr Bedford maintained that he was threatened and left but came across a second branch of the protesters and tried to drive slowly.
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 there was no official record of the threats.
The court had heard he usually streamed his demonstrations on Facebook.
Mr Bedford gave evidence at the bail hearing and the court and alleged the anti-immigration group was inciting racist attacks in Dublin. He claimed they shouted, “That’s him, that’s him,” and “threw themselves in front of my car” as he “tried to get away.
His bail terms state he must sign on three days a week at a garda station and not attend demonstrations involving anti-immigration protests, and not drive any motor vehicles.