Extinction Rebellion activists who caused £100k damage by smashing windows of Barclays bank in London are SPARED jail after judge told violent protesters ‘the world faces great danger’ from climate change
- Six women convicted of criminal damage on Monday over the incident last April
- They broke the glass windows of Barclays bank in Canary Wharf, east London
- They argued Barclays staff would have consented if they knew about climate change
Extinction Rebellion activists who caused £100,000 of damage by smashing windows of a Barclays bank in London have been spared jail – after the judge said ‘the world faces great danger’ from climate change.
Carol Wood, 54, Sophie Cowen, 32, Lucy Porter, 48, Gabriella Ditton, 29, Rosemary Webster, 64, and Zoe Cohen, 52, were convicted of criminal damage on Monday over the incident on April 7 last year.
Porter, Ditton and Webster were all on bail at the time and have been given a suspended sentence of eight months.
Meanwhile, Wood and Cohen were given a suspended sentence of seven months and Cowan a suspended sentence of six months.
Six Extinction Rebellion activists who caused £100,000 of damage by smashing windows of a Barclays bank in London have been spared jail
Police officers detained activists from Extinction Rebellion outside the Barclays in Canary Wharf
The sentences for all the women have been suspended for two years.
In April last year, the group spread out along the front of Barclays bank in Canary Wharf, east London, before using chisels and hammers to break the large glass panels that made up the outside of the bank.
Their actions were associated with climate change campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
More than 20 supporters whooped and clapped as Judge David Milne KC concluded the hearing at Southwark Crown Court today.
During their trial the protestors argued that Barclays staff would have consented to the damage if they were fully informed about the climate crisis – and said they did not mean to cause as much damage as they did.
Owen Grenhall, defending Wood, said: ‘There is a difference between a protester and those who are normally before the court in other matters of criminality.
Women activists gathered around defendants (left to right) Rosemary Webster, Carol Wood, Lucy Porter, Zoe Cohen and Sophie Cowen
‘There is evidence of some planning of the protest. Much of the planning went to aspects of safety. Their planning was to ensure the action was carried out as safe as possible.
‘In terms of whether very serious damage was caused, my submission is they did not intend to cause damage at the financial levels which resulted in this case.
‘Yes, they intended to break the glass, but the consistent evidence was that they were very surprised that the glass broke that much.’
He added that there was no evidence of any distress caused, saying: ‘The value has to be assessed in the context of the event and one cannot ignore the fact that the income and profits made by Barclays are of an order greater than… it is hard to think of a comparable institution.
The protestors argued that Barclays staff would have consented to the damage if they were fully informed about the climate crisis
‘It is not the same as causing that level of damage to a private individual home.’
Cowan, representing herself, said: ‘Where is the law that prosecutes Barclays for their crimes? I am not questioning the jury’s decision but I do feel they were trapped into making it, trapped by a technicality of the law and the language of those in authority.’
Prosecutor Diana Wilson asked Cowan not to use the courtroom to protest and Judge David Milne told her: ‘This is your opportunity to tell the court about yourself. You were very eloquent in your trial but we are all bound by the law.’
Cowan replied: ‘If we are bound by the law then everything on Earth is going to die.’
Her co-defendant Cohen said that she took action to help prevent a climate-induced disaster that would result in ‘100 holocausts’.
She added: ‘I do not say that lightly your Honour. I say that as someone of Jewish origin on this Holocaust Memorial Day.
‘I was not brought up to do any harm to anyone. I feel genuine remorse for any distress caused and for the use of public resources, but I must be true to my conscience. I do not regret my action.
‘I believe that every adult alive now has the moral obligation to protect what is left of the biosphere.’
Judge Milne said: ‘You set about as a group breaking a series of large windows of the front of the bank. You issued fixed notices of the reasoning for so doing and sat down and waited for the police to arrive.
‘The consensus of scientific opinion supports your view that the world faces great danger and urgent action is needed. However, the strength of your beliefs has led you to take the law into your own hands.
‘Breaking windows is violence. Violence against property but violence nonetheless. You also spoke of the dangers of society breaking down but it is you who chose to break the law.’
Source: Read Full Article