Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Thursday, 4 March 2010

Troop protest demonstrator denies Luton attack racist

A man who admitted assaulting a Bedfordshire town mayor when Muslims were protesting at a parade by British troops has denied being a racist.

Kier McElroy, 19, of Langford Drive, Luton, admits affray and assault causing actual bodily harm.

At Luton Crown Court he also denied a charge of racially aggravated assault on student Venkateswara Muppalla.

Mr McElroy was arrested two months after a march by 300 people on 24 May 2009 in Luton that ended in violence.

The court was told that march had been in response to a homecoming parade two weeks earlier by soldiers of the Royal Anglian Regiment which was targeted by Muslim demonstrators.

Sarah Porter, prosecuting, said Mr McElroy was involved in violence on both occasions.

On 24 May he was among a group of who cornered university students Venkateswara Muppalla and Vijaychaitanya Kovvuri on George Street, she said.

Kicked mayor

She alleged that Mr McElroy struck Mr Muppalla with a banner and the jury would have to decide whether the assault was racially aggravated.

Ms Porter said: "He attacked someone who was Asian simply because they were Asian."

Mr McElroy admitted also being present in Luton town centre on 10 March and saw the protest against the troops.

"I thought it was disgusting," he said.

He said that on seeing the Mayor of Luton, Lakhbir Singh, he ran up to him and kicked him because he had allowed the protestors to be there.

He said the attack was nothing to do with race or colour and that he had pleaded guilty to an offence of common assault on the mayor.

On the 24 May he had started drinking in the morning, adding: "I got involved, I was drunk. My vision was cloudy and I assaulted someone."

He denied being a racist and said there were Muslims and Sikhs in his own family.

The case continues.

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