A man accused of violent disorder at a protest outside a hotel housing asylum seekers in Merseyside and said to have been organised by the English Defence League League has told a court he was walking his dog.
Daniel Fulham, is one of five men on trial for violent disorder following the demonstration at the Suites Hotel in Knowsley on 10 February last year, during which three officers were injured and a police van set on fire.
Mr Fulham admitted that he was at the scene but denied any wrongdoing, saying that he was in the area to walk his dog. Jonjo O’Donoghue, his co-defendant, told the jury he had gone to the protest out of boredom.
Footage of the protest showed Fulham, 39, of Kirkby, Merseyside, lifting his Jack Russell above his head in front of a police cordon, claimed he was shouting “this is our road” during the protest in reference to himself and his dog, who he said regularly walk down the road.
“It could be called Jessie’s road because we go there that often,” he told Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday.
The trial has heard there was “ill feeling” in the Kirkby area after a video appearing to show an asylum seeker from the hotel asking a 15-year-old girl for her phone number and a kiss was shared on social media.
Fulham said he had been told about the video showing “that poor baby getting touched by them people”.
He accepted telling a police officer “f*** you” but denied that it was a threat of violence.
He said he left the area because “stuff started going mad” and went home.
Asked what he thought about the incident afterwards, he said: “I thought it was shit on my dog, to be honest.”
O’Donoghue, 21, said he had gone to the protest “out of boredom” with friends.
He said he and two friends got a taxi from Kensington, Liverpool, to the area and when he arrived, between 10pm and 10.30pm, he saw the burnt out police van.
He said: “That was the reason why I didn’t stay very long because the scene was quite agitated, the crowd was quite agitated.”
He told the court he was handed two fireworks by someone, but said he had “no idea” who had given them to him.
He said: “I let a couple of fireworks off out of curiosity. It wasn’t something I intended to cause violence or anything to anyone.”
He denied being a person shown on footage throwing a firework at police.
O’Donoghue said he had no strong views on immigration and when he was asked about right-wing politics said: “It’s all like talking a different language to me to be honest.”
Brian McPadden, 61, Thomas Mills, 47, and Paul Lafferty, 42, are standing trial alongside O’Donoghue and Fulham.
All men accept being present on the night but deny violent disorder.
Three women – Cheryl Nicholls, 44, Nicola Elliott, 52, and Jennifer Knox, 41 – were found not guilty of violent disorder on Monday following a direction from judge Denis Watson KC, who said there was “insufficient evidence”.
The trial was scheduled to continue on Wednesday, when the jury was expected to hear legal directions.