Traveller is ‘victim of last bastion of acceptable racism’, court told

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A traveller at the centre of a neighbourhood feud is the victim of the “last bastion of acceptable racism”, the High Court heard today (Wednesday).

Patrick Ward is accused of driving his van at a man and threatening to kill two others after windows were smashed at his home in Portadown.

But a judge was told he instead claims to have suffered an ongoing campaign of discrimination based on the community he belongs to.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey said: “It’s been described as the last bastion of acceptable racism in Britain.”

Ward, 28, of Garvaghy Park, was granted bail but banned from going near the scene of the dispute.

He faces charges of assault, possessing an offensive weapon, dangerous driving and threats to kill over two separate incidents last week.

It was claimed that the father-of-four went out and drove at speed at the man he blamed for breaking his windows early on February 11.

The alleged victim claimed Ward then got out wielding a small baseball bat and challenged him to a fight.

The accused was arrested and bailed the same day, only to allegedly become involved in a second incident in the same Churchill Park area.

He denied making any threats or to have driven in a pedestrian area.

Ward instead told police that a 20-strong crowd of people had gathered outside his home, the court heard.

Mr McConkey added: “The applicant would describe it as an ongoing campaign of harassment and intimidation against his family.

“He instructs me that by and large the reason is because he’s a member of the Travelling Community.”

Granting bail, Mr Justice Horner took into account that Ward’s wife is seven months pregnant with their fifth child.

The judge said there was a prima facie case on both the alleged offences and a campaign of discrimination against the family.

“There’s clearly trouble at this particular location and I’m not in a position to sort it out,” he added.

Ward is to be released from custody to live at another address in the town on condition that he abides by an exclusion zone, a night-time curfew and electronic tagging.

He must also have no contact with any of the alleged victims.