18th January Nottingham Crown Court [Day 17]

From the first trial the previous 18 of the 20 defendant had already been sentenced on the 10th January.

The remaining 2 had to appear at Court 5, Nottingham Crown Court today.

The story so far ….. At the conclusion of the trial on the 14th December 2010, all 20 defendants were found guilty of Conspiracy to Commit Aggravated Trespass.

They were arrested in April 2009 during the biggest pre-emptive arrest in UK history. The 114 people were detained at Iona School, Sneinton, where they were involved in planning an operation to shut down Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station for a week. The facts were not disputed.  Giving evidence, this was clearly there intention and that they were equipped to do it.  The defence of necessity was employed in that they were acting to prevent a greater harm; death and serious injury to others as a direct consequence of climate changes bought about by the burning of fossil fuels, most notably coal.

His Honour Judge Teare had deferred sentencing until today [18 January 2011] for the remaining 2 defendants.

Miss Gerry for the prosecution said that these defendants did have a number of previous convictions for offences relating to social and environmental matters. She read out the previous for them that involved protests at Heathrow, Kingsnorth, Sizewell, Didcot, RAF Northwood and Downing Street.

She reminded the Judge she had asked for prosecution costs of £5,000 costs against each defendant. Further she applied for a deprivation order under:

Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 [sect 143]
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/6/section/143

Judge Teare turns to thoughts of sentencing.  To start with, he said he was quite cross with Mr Edward Rees, the lead defence barrister [not present at this court], in that he had mislead the court to believe that a suspended sentence could not be given for a prison sentence of three months or less. He should have behaved better for a QC.  This is the maximum penalty for this offence.  It is in fact for sentences of less than six months that could be suspended!  He said if he had realised this, a couple of the earlier defendants would have had suspended sentences. He has looked further into this, and if minded, he could revisit sentencing for those within 28 days, but he is not going to.

With regard to these defendants, Judge Teare says that each have had many previous appearances and he says I am now considering suspended sentences. Ms Elliot in mitigation says that if that is so, these two fall below the level of others given lesser sentences at the last date.

Turning to references, Ms Elliot says that both have glowing references from the Director of Greenpeace, both being staff members there. It was not however, a ‘Greenpeace action’.  Both have been very active in raising public awareness on issues around climate change.

Ms Elliot reminds the Judge of his comments on sentencing the other defendants:

“I have read a great deal about all of you since the trial concluded. There is not one of you who cannot provide glowing references from peers or professionals. And, if I may select, some of the adjectives that recur throughout they are these: honest, sincere, conscientious, intelligent, committed, dedicated and caring. You are all decent men and women with a genuine concern for others, and in particular for the survival of planet Earth in something resembling its present form. I have no doubt that each of you acted with the highest possible motives. And that is an extremely important consideration”.

Sarah Elliot, compared the defendants behaviour and high principles unfavourably with police methods. She told the Judge that their honourable and decent motives perhaps might be contrasted with what we now know about the long-term deployment of undercover police officers, one of whom acted on the ‘extreme boundary of legality’, if not decency, if the reports of agitation and so on across Europe are to be believed. The deployment of that officer has been concealed from the defendants by the crown in these proceedings. Such evidence might have had an influence on the trial.

His Honour Judge Jonathan Teare, referring to the undercover police officer said that he is going to disappoint the media by making NO COMMENT on PC Mark Kennedy, other than to say that he played absolutely no part in the trial. He says I have no knowledge of him apart from the fact that he hired a vehicle as part of these events. All matters pertaining to his involvement are alleged and unproved at this stage. I guess a fair few of the journos present were hoping for a few more juicy titbits about him.

On sentencing, the Judge says he’s not going to reiterate all of his comments from the last trial, other than that both are both clearly motivated and come with the highest references. As with a couple of others, I was considering giving you both suspended sentences in the light  of your previous convictions, but as already said, Mr Rees had mislead me.  It is thus unfair to treat you differently now. He gives community service orders to do unpaid work within 12 months one for 90 hours and the other 80 hours. Although they were both employed, because of their low income, there was no order on costs.

Returning to the deprivation order on the kit defence barrister Ms Elliot tried to argue that quite expensive climbing gear, a truck load of sleeping bags etc … were a little outside of the normal articles involved in crime such as knives, guns, drugs, crowbar etc.  Judge said that he was minded to grant a deprivation order, since the articles were bought for this crime. Defence counters asking that rather than confiscation and destruction, perhaps defendant might be allowed to sign a disclaimer and the articles might be given to a charity?  Eventually, after several more exchanges, the judge asked both side to try to come to some agreement themselves on all the property included in both trials and those not charged, and to let him know, for ‘rubber-stamping’, by the 18th March.

She said the extensive list of personal items also including Kennedy’s BlackBerry phone, complete with a secret police tracking device. She say this was mentioned in the reports in the Daily Mail. The Judge remarked that: “That is a newspaper which does not cross my table.” Chuckle went round the courtroom 🙂

Defendants and their solicitor had all voiced concerns on how little the Judge had been told about PC Kennedy’s undercover work and his likely contribution to the evidence before the court.

One of the defendants, who is head of media for Greenpeace, said on the steps of Nottingham crown court that the only people who now faced jail over the Ratcliffe protest were police officers. He accused them of withholding a tape made by Kennedy which is now the subject of a disclosure application to the CPS.

He said: “Kennedy played no part in our trial because he did not come up in evidence. Those who knew that he was a police officer, and knew the significance of that explosive tape, did not tell us, and, now we know, significantly,  did not tell the judge.”

“Very serious allegations have been raised which throw into doubt the safety of our conviction, and there is possibly a miscarriage of justice. I don’t think any of us, when we were arrested, would have thought that a possible scenario at the end of this would be that the only people who face jail sentences are police officers for suppressing evidence.”

Speaking on the court steps after the trial:

Last 2x defendants from 1st Ratcliffe Trial Statements- Nottm Crown Court [Video]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/tumbles/898

Mike Schwarz Solicitor Statements on Trial & Kennedy – Nottm Crown Court [Video]
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/tumbles/899

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Tash Report PDF on the Trial Progress: Ratcliffe Crown Court Case Nov 2010 – Jan 2011
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/system/file_upload/2011/01/08/72/ratcliffe_crown_court_case__nov_2010__no_names.pdf

Earlier Indymedia daily coverage of the progress of this trial
with the daily links:
Ratcliffe Trial Day 16 – Return for Sentencing
http://notts.indymedia.org.uk/articles/847

http://ratcliffeontrial.org

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