Shropshire Star

Shropshire climate protesters found guilty and fined for chaining themselves inside bank

Climate activists, including four from Shropshire, have been handed a total of nearly £2,000 in fines by a judge who found them guilty of aggravated trespass after they chained themselves up inside a branch of Barclays Bank.

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The Extinction Rebellion campaigners who were in court yesterday returned to the ‘scene of the crime’ afterwards

The seven Extinction Rebellion campaigners chained themselves to a stand by a window in a customer waiting area at a Cardiff branch of the bank during a 'Day of Action' on November 14.

District judge David Webster, delivering his judgment at Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday, found that the "seasoned protestors" had intended to cause disruption.

"On that basis I find the defendants guilty," he said.

The judge said the protestors had planned their action to bring attention to the bank's investments in fossil fuels to be able to justify it afterwards.

"This was a deliberate disruption devised as to be able to justify your actions," he said.

Judge Webster said that the six defendants facing him in court had refused to leave the bank when asked to do so by the bank manager, who told them they were not welcome, and then by police.

But he said their protest had been planned to be peaceful, silent and to cause minimal disruption.

They had been wearing the slogan "conscientious protestor" during their action to raise awareness of the climate crisis.

But the judge said they "must have known" that the bank would respond and they were seeking a maximum impact for their actions.

The Extinction Rebellion campaigners who were in court yesterday returned to the ‘scene of the crime’ afterwards

The judge said the defendants were all of good character. They are Michael Bastow, 63, of Victoria Road, Oswestry; Jamie Russell, 48, of Well Meadow Drive, Shrewsbury; Dougall Purce, 59, of North Street, Shrewsbury; Christine Welch, 69, of Church Street, Broseley; Sarah Wilding, 55, of High Street, Aberystwyth; and Pamela Williams, 74, of Van, in Powys.

Pamela Williams has a previous conviction for wilful obstruction at a protest in May 2022, and Jamie Russell had a conditional discharge imposed for failing to comply with an order to leave at a protest in January this year, the court was told.

The court heard that a charge of aggravated trespass could have attracted a three-month jail term, a fine, or both but the judge considered that the offence was at the "bottom end" of the scale.

He said the culpability of the defendants was low and the harm to Barclays was "very difficult to apportion".

The judge handed fines and victim surcharges dependent on the defendants' weekly incomes, and ordered each of them to pay court costs of £310. He gave them all a 10 per cent reduction in fines because of their "good character".

Michael Bastow was handed a £534 fine with a victim surcharge of £214.

Jamie Russell was handed a £306 fine and a surcharge of £122.

Dougall Purce was handed a £405 fine and £162 victim surcharge.

Christine Welch was handed a £270 fine and £108 surcharge.

Sarah Wilding was handed a £270 fine and a £108 surcharge.

Pamela Williams was fined £180 with a surcharge of £72.

The court heard that a seventh protestor, Mark Stokes, 62, of Lorne Street, Oswestry, had earlier pleaded guilty and had received a conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs.

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