Bristol riot: Man ‘tried to set fire to occupied police vans' at Kill the Bill protest, court told

Ryan Roberts denies a charge of riot as well as multiple counts of attempted arson and is on trial at Bristol Crown Court. Credit: Liz Cook

A protester tried to set fire to two occupied police vans during the “Kill the Bill” demonstrations in Bristol and told one officer trapped inside he was going to “go bang”, a court has heard.

Ryan Roberts, 25, is accused of leading protesters in chants of “ACAB: All cops are b******s” outside Bridewell Police Dtation on the afternoon of Sunday March 21 before throwing cans, bottles and placards at officers.

On the first day of his trial at Bristol Crown Court today (October 26), the jury was told Roberts verbally abused and repeatedly kicked officers, before smashing in the windows of the police station.

The jury was shown footage from inside the station as the glass was kicked in.

Forty-four officers were injured during the riot “in terrifying scenes of violence, fire and missiles”, the prosecutor said.

Investigations being carried out at the scene of the violence in Bristol Credit: PA

Roberts is accused of damaging several occupied police cars by striking them several times with a police baton dropped by an officer in the crush.

He then allegedly set fire to a piece of paper and cardboard and a police van, telling an officer inside he would “go bang”, it is claimed.

Roberts is further accused of smashing in the windows of a mobile police station and encouraging the crowd to help roll it over, before setting light to the cab while hundreds of people were close by.

The defendant then allegedly tried to set fire to a moving police van full of officers, the court heard, before torching an industrial bin and an already partially burnt-out police car.

Prosecutor Matt Jackman said: “What we aim to prove – and it is for the prosecution to make you sure of all this, not for Mr Roberts to prove himself innocent – is that this was not just mindless activity.

“It was of course stupid, irresponsible and dangerous, his actions were also deliberate, and he knew exactly what he was doing.”

Violence broke out after a Kill The Bill protest Credit: PA

Mr Jackman continued: “It was nothing to do with protecting other people, and it was nothing to do with legitimate protest – it was all about attacking the police and causing as much disruption as possible.”

Roberts, of no fixed address, denies a charge of riot as well as two charges of attempted arson with intent to endanger life in respect of one of the vans and the mobile police station.

He further denies two alternative counts of attempted arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Roberts is also on trial for two counts of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered for allegedly setting light to the mobile police station and the police car.

The trial, which is due to last for three days, continues.