Two men accused of violent disorder after protesters occupied a Cardiff bank on May Day last year have been acquitted.
Joshua Longbottom, 26 – also known as Joshua Howe – and Peter Simpson, 30, were accused of having a confrontation with police at the HSBC branch in Queen Street on May 2 last year.
Demonstrators had been involved in a peaceful May Day march in the city centre organised by Cardiff Uncut and Cardiff Trades Council.
Cardiff Crown Court previously heard that a small minority broke off from the main march and occupied the Queen Street bank where they shouted slogans and protests.
Longbottom was accused of assaulting a police officer and Simpson was accused of trying to prevent Longbottom’s arrest.
Both were arrested and taken to Cardiff Bay police station.
Longbottom and Simpson, both of Clifton Street, Adamsdown , Cardiff, were accused of violent disorder and assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH).
They both denied the charges against them and argued they were “acting instinctively” to protect themselves.
During the trial Judge Michael Fitton QC gave the jury a direction to find Longbottom and Simpson not guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm (ABH) as the evidence could no longer sustain the allegation.
On Thursday the jury found both men not guilty.
Read more: Anarchist protest at Cardiff bank was ‘serious piece of mob violence’, say prosecutors
During the trial both men gave their accounts of what happened at what Longbottom called a “peaceful protest”.
He told the court joined the protest at the end of St Mary Street and entered the HSBC bank along with other protesters when they reached Queen Street.
He said: “I thought we were going to hand out some leaflets and maybe try and engage with some members of the public.
“We all lined up against the back wall and someone started making a speech about HSBC and tax. There was nothing untoward.”
After spending 15 minutes in the bank Longbottom said he approached the entrance to hand leaflets to members of the public who had been refused entry to the bank as it had closed.
The defendant then claimed he was shoved by a police officer and was refused re-entry.
Defendant claimed he was thrown to floor by police
When he tried to get back into the bank he claims he was grabbed by the officer who tried to shove him back out.
Longbottom said: “I wanted to finish my protest and I felt it was unfair they wouldn’t let me back in.”
When he tried to get back into the bank he claimed he was grabbed and “thrown to the floor” by an officer before later being warned he could be Tasered.
He claimed he sustained bruising to his collar bone, chest and arms as a result of his arrest.
Simpson said he saw Longbottom on the floor and believed he was being “attacked” and added: “I was concerned by the level or force being used by police officers.
“An officer had come down on top of Joshua. It just seemed really sudden and I was shocked by it. I was trying to figure out what was going on.”
Simpson also claimed to have been grabbed and elbowed by a police officer during the incident.
Speaking after the acquittal, Mr Simpson said: “There’s an element of relief but I wouldn’t go as far to say I’m relieved.
“I knew that we both weren’t guilty. We were treated as guilty until proven innocent and that shouldn’t be the way things work.
“The jury was able to see the evidence and and not be brought into this sensational thing. The evidence wasn’t there.”
Mr Longbottom added: “It’s been stressful. I’ve hoped it would turn out like this.
“It’s nice to see the justice system working how it should.”