Protesters convicted over bridge-scaling protest

time:2023-06-01 11:25:15 source:CBS News

Two protesters who scaled the Dartford Crossing bridge have been found guilty of causing a public nuisance.

Just Stop Oil activists Morgan Trowland, 40, of Islington, London, and Marcus Decker, 34, of no fixed address, claimed it was a peaceful protest.

The trial at Basildon Crown Court heard they scaled to a height of 200ft (60m) on the bridge's cables in October last year.

They are due to be sentenced at the same court on 13 April.

The crossing linking the M25 over the River Thames between Essex and Kent was closed from 04:00 BST on 17 October until 21:00 the following day.

During the trial jurors heard that after scaling the bridge cables they unfurled a Just Stop Oil banned and rigged up hammocks.

Prosecutor Adam King told the trial the pair had deliberately tried to cause disruption.

He said their actions "caused gridlock for miles around throughout that period, which we say was the point."

Mr King told jurors: "We're not here to litigate the government's climate change policy."

Trowland had said in evidence: "We climbed it [the bridge] to deliver a warning message, to put up a banner saying Just Stop Oil and to speak that message through interviews with journalists."

He said the activist group's goal was to get the government to stop licensing oil and gas production.

Judge Shane Collery KC remanded them in custody ahead of sentencing and said custodial sentences were being considered.

He said: "We're dealing with significant nuisance that's been caused."

The pair have spent more than five months in custody, having been remanded at their first appearance at Southend Magistrates' Court on 20 October and face a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Sean Irish, of Just Stop Oil, said outside court: "Just Stop Oil will not stop because of a crackdown.

"The climate crisis is more terrifying than 10 years in a British cell."

He said the verdicts were "quite disappointing".

Essex Police said that those impacted by the traffic disruption included a "heavily pregnant woman who needed urgent medical help".

Another person missed the funeral of their best friend of 35 years, the force said, and a business lost more than £160,000 in earnings.

Ch Supt Simon Anslow, who led the force's response to the incident, said: "The actions of Trowland and Decker were incredibly dangerous; for themselves, for the officers who were tasked with dealing with them and for the many, many people whose lives were disrupted as a result."

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