Heathrow blockade protesters fined £305
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.”