Heathrow block­ade protesters fined £305

Harefield Gazette - - OPINION/ NEWS - by Kather­ine Cle­men­tine kather­ine.cle­men­tine@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

PLANE Stupid protesters say their ac­tions were ‘nec­es­sary’ af­ter caus­ing two flight can­cel­la­tions, 75 peo­ple to miss their flight, and hours of traf­fic chaos af­ter blockad­ing the en­trance tun­nel to Heathrow Air­port with a van.

The self-pro­claimed Heathrow Tun­nel Trio, who are Esme Wal­dron, 23, and Alis­tair Can­nell, 26, both from Brighton, and Wil­liam Pet­tifer, 27, from Rad­ford, Som­er­set, were fined at Uxbridge Mag­sis­trates Court on Tues­day.

They pleaded guilty on the same morn­ing blockad­ing the en­trance tun­nel to Heathrow Ter­mi­nals 1, 2 and 3 on Novem­ber 26 last year.

The court heard how at 7.45am on Novem­ber 26, po­lice were called to re­ports of a white Nis­san van caus­ing an ob­struc­tion to the tun­nel into Heathrow Air­port

Po­lice found the three de­fen­dants chained to the van and traf­fic at a stand­still.

Can­nell had at­tached him­self to the near­side wheel of the ve­hi­cle, Wal­dron had at­tached her­self to the off­side wheel and was lying on a car­pet, whilst Pet­tifer was at­tached to the ve­hi­cle at the front via a metal bolt.

When po­lice asked Pet­tifer how long he in­tended to be there, he replied with ‘as long as pos­si­ble’.

It took 4 hours and 29 min­utes for traf­fic to re­turn to nor­mal af­ter the in­ci­dent, with two flights can­celled, 75 peo­ple miss­ing their flight and 200 car park­ing cus­tomers dis­rupted.

Ad­dress­ing District Judge Deb­o­rah Wright, who heard the trial of the Plane Stupid Heathrow 13, who were spared jail af­ter chain­ing them­selves to Heathrow rail­ings, Mr Ja­cob Bind­man, de­fend­ing all three, ex­plained they were of pre­vi­ous good char­ac­ter.

He told the court how the tun­nel block­ade was on the same day as a par­lia­men­tary de­bate on the third run­way, and that af­ter David Cameron go­ing back on his prom­ise of ‘no ifs, no buts, no third run­way’ the de­bate was opened up again.

Speak­ing on be­half of the trio, Mr Bind­man said: “We don’t have the money to com­pete with Heathrow Air­port’s ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign and must re­sort to ac­tions such as ours. De­fen­dants were aware they caused dis­rup­tion and are sorry, how­ever, they feel it was jus­ti­fied they did all they could to min­imise dis­rup­tion, such as driv­ing slowly.

“They didn’t set out to cause harm, it was never their sole in­ten­tion but it was to draw me­dia at­ten­tion.”

Mr Bind­man asked for a low fine due to their in­come be­ing very low and should be in pro­por­tion to their earn­ings - one de­fen­dant is a stu­dent, one is a farm worker and one works in a bar.

DJ Deb­o­rah Wright Judge gave full credit to the de­fen­dants for guilty pleas and took a third off the orig­i­nal fine to­tal.

Hand­ing down the fine, DJ Wright told the protesters they showed a “spec­tac­u­lar lack of con­sid­er­a­tion” when they blocked the tun­nel.

The trio must each pay a to­tal of £305, con­sist­ing of a £200 fine, £85 costs and a £20 vic­tim sur­charge.

Speak­ing the hear­ing, Mr Pet­tifer said: “It turned out bet­ter than I was ex­pect­ing, I ex­pected more. We will be con­tin­u­ing di­rect ac­tion – this won’t put me off do­ing things that are nec­es­sary.”

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