Swansea riot accused ‘bought £250 car for use in anti-social behaviour’

·4-min read

A man on trial over a riot in Swansea last year bought a £250 car in “anticipation” of it being used in anti-social behaviour, a court has been told.

Kye Dennis, 25, of Fforestfach, and a friend took the black Vauxhall Astra to the city hours before violence erupted in the Mayhill area on May 20.

The Astra and a silver Ford Ka were set alight and rolled down Waun Wen Road during the disorder, which was sparked by the sudden death of a local teenager.

A total of 27 people aged between 15 and 44 were charged with offences relating to the Mayhill riots.

Swansea disorder
The top of Waun Wen Road in Swansea (Ben Birchall/PA)

Twenty-six have pleaded guilty but Dennis denies any wrongdoing.

He claims that although he was present for some of the riot he left when it got out of control, and told police he thought the actions of those involved were “disgusting”.

Robin Rouch QC, prosecuting, told the jury at Swansea Crown Court that Dennis had intended the car to be used in what unfolded and therefore “played his part in fuelling the events which took place”.

Opening the case on Tuesday, Mr Rouch said: “Last year a young man from the local area called Ethan Powell died.

“Friends and people who knew him arranged an event for him on the evening of the 20th on Waun Wen Road.

“It could have been a peaceful celebration of his life. Unfortunately, some who attended it had different ideas and it descended into an ugly, violent incident.”

Mr Rouch told the court that in the days before the vigil messages were exchanged on social media about procuring cars for the event.

Swansea disorder
Council contractors place heavy concrete barriers at the top of Waun Wen Road (Ben Birchall/PA)

Rioter Lewis James, 20, of Trawler Road, is known to have gone with others to buy a Ford Ka.

Dennis went with another rioter Aaron Phillips, 23, of Caer-Gynydd Road, to Carmarthenshire to buy the old, damaged Astra, driving it back on a flatbed lorry.

A jeep also used in the riot was said to have been stolen.

Dennis parked the Astra near Waun Wen Road at 7.35pm, around half an hour after the first report of anti-social behaviour was made to police.

A short while later, James and another two rioters – Connor Beddows, 22, and Jahanzaib Malik, 21 – were seen picking up the car before driving it to Waun Wen Road where it was set alight and pushed down the hill.

Mr Rouch told the jury that when Dennis and Phillips bought the car “there was an anticipation that it was going to be used in some anti-social way”.

“When he handed over control of the vehicle later on he certainly knew what was going on in Waun Wen Road,” Mr Rouch said.

“That he stands around watching shows he was more than content for the Astra to be used in the way it was.”

Giles Hayes, defending Dennis, said Phillips had arranged to buy the car and suggested his client, who had a vehicle recovery business with Phillips, picked up the Astra with him as part of their normal working relationship.

Swansea disorder
Blackened tarmac at the top of Waun Wen Road (Ben Birchall/PA)

He also pointed out that despite hours of footage being recovered by police, none show Dennis acting violently.

In a statement read to the court by Mr Rouch, a woman who lived on Waun Wen Road described being home alone with her children when the street descended into lawlessness.

“I felt like I was in a war zone and not in the middle of a residential street in Swansea,” she said.

She added that she “burst into tears” when she emerged later to find her living room and front door windows smashed, leaving glass strewn across her home, including inside her baby’s cot.

Her partner Adam Romain returned home from work when he was told the Astra had hurtled into his car.

He stood guard at his front door in an effort to defend his family while his partner and children hid in the kitchen.

In one video men could be seen hurling abuse and rocks at Mr Romain as he told them: “This is my car, this is my family, this is my property.”

The jury was played a 35-minute compilation video which showed how the riot became increasingly violent.

Officers initially called to the scene left within six minutes of arriving after they were targeted with rocks and cans.

Hours later a small number of officers in riot gear can be seen battling to stop the riot as they are attacked, and one officer can be heard desperately calling for back-up.

Mr Rouch said: “You may be aware that the police response and how they dealt with the incident has been criticised both informally and formally in a report.

“That, of course, was not an excuse for the level of criminality what those involved in the riots effectively created.”