An “eccentric” Brighton activist accused of planning to damage an Israeli-linked drone factory appeared frantic when he hired a van, a jury was told today.
Tony Greenstein, 69, called Choices Vehicle Rentals in Beaconsfield Road, Brighton, to hire a Vauxhall van, on March 8, 2021 which he picked up at 5pm the same day.
In the early hours of the next morning, he was stopped while driving it in Walsall by police, who found items they say were intended to cause damage to the nearby UAV factory, including sledgehammers, smoke bombs and fire extinguishers adapted to spray red paint.
He and five other people in the van were all wearing red boiler suits, and were wearing t-shirts, badges or wristbands in support of Palestine Action, a small protest group whose stated aim is to shut down UAV’s parent company, Israel-based Elbit Systems.
Greenstein and four co-defendants deny the charge of possessing an article with the intent to destroy property. Yesterday, when the trial opened, the jury was told a sixth defendant has pleaded guilty.
Today, Wolverhampton Crown Court was read a statement from the acting manager of Choices Vehicle Rental, who said Greenstein had come in person to pick up the van.
He said: “He was quite an eccentric character. He also seemed to be in a hurry and seemed frantic, searching his wallet for bank cards.
“He said he needed the van to delivery a ladder to Birmingham. He also wanted to pay for the whole transaction in cash, which we only allow if appropriate ID is provided.
“He hadn’t brought with him sufficient identification so had to pay by bank card.”
The next day, the hire company were called by police, who had seized the van, and the manager travelled up to the midlands to collect it from the police compound.
Greenstein’s card was charged another £540 to cover the company’s expenses, plus another day’s hire of the van.
The others are Ibrahim Samadi from Cambridge, Alex Waters of no fixed abode, Helen Caney of Reading and Jeremy Parker from London.
The sixth occupant of the van, Bethany Clowackin of no fixed abode, has already pleaded guilty and will be sentenced after the conclusion of this trial.
The trial, which is scheduled to last three weeks, continues.