Devon woman who stripped to protest Brexit in court for blocking major roads

A Devon woman who stripped off and painted herself with a Union Flag to protest the Brexit vote has appeared in court charged with blocking major roads in a protest over the expansion of Heathrow.

Twelve activists who closed main roads around Heathrow airport in protest to the planned third runway pleaded guilty today to obstructing a highway.

They appeared at Ealing Magistrates Court in west London charged with one count of wilfully obstructing a highway on November 19th this year.

In total 15 people were charged, three of whom pleaded not guilty to the single count.

Simon Bramwell, 44, Ian Bray, 49, Graham Lewis, 53, Thomas Harford, 26, Sibi Moore, 21, Madeleine Allis-Petersen, 24, Antoine Thalmann, 25, Henry Owen, 24, Joanne Louise Bodimeade, 28, Alexis Delage, 25, Tom Venner-Woodcock, 29, and 30-year-old Tess Lotter each admitted the charge.

Lewis was seen in court wearing a white ‘Plane Crazy Runway Hell’ t-shirt.

Richard Doolan, prosecuting, said the protesters were split into two groups, one going to the M4 spur road, and the other going onto the A4 Bath Road, near the airport.

He said: “The first five defendants entered the A4 Bath Road from the Holiday Inn hotel and lay down in the road blocking it. They were joined together with plastic tubes.

“Some of the defendants had to be cut away by the authorities, before they were arrested for wilfully obstructing a highway.

“The other group of nine entered the M4 and also lay down in the road blocking it. They had again locked armed with plastic tubes.

“All the defendants were removed from the road in less than half an hour by the police. The protest took place between 11am and 12pm.”

He told the court it was a planned protest and police were told it would be taking place.

Bramwell, of Stroud, Gloucestershire, Bray, of Kirklees, West Yorkshire, Lewis, of Wells, Somerset, Harford, of Bristol, Avon, Moore, of Sidmouth, Devon, Allis-Petersen, 24, of Ealing, Thalmann and Owen, both of Oxford, Bodimeade, of Lambeth, south London, Delage, of Lewisham, south east London, Venner-Woodcock, of Southwark, south London and Lotter of Camden, London, escaped with just conditional discharges.

Ms Moore gained notoriety in Bristol in June when she painted her naked body in the form of a Union Jack to encourage voters to vote in favour of staying in Europe in the referendum.

Her friend, Claire Green, painted herself in the Euro flag.

Mike Schwarz, speaking for the defence, said: “This is all to do with the decision to extend the airport and build the third runaway.”

He said the defendants were angry at MPs decisions regarding the runway, concerned about the increase in air pollution as a result of more planes over London and the social inequality it may cause.

He added: “They say they acted for moral or even spiritual reasons to stand of for this injustice.”

In mitigation the court heard all the defendants were active campaigners on a range of issues and did a large amount of work in the community.

During the mitigation Lewis, who is unemployed, told the court he was a “trainee Buddha” while doing voluntary work for families in his area.

Judge Stephen Day said: “You have all pleaded guilty at the first opportunity and for that you will receive credit.

“All of you are of good character with no previous convictions and I have read your references which talk about you in glowing terms.

“For this offence I shall order a conditional discharge.”

All 12 defendants were ordered to pay £20 victim surcharge and £85 prosecution costs.

Speaking after the hearing, surrounded by supporters who had been outside court since the morning holding banners, Madeleine Ellis-Petersen welcomed the sentence.

She said: “It was a great result within the realms of what were were expecting.

“However this is not the end we will continue to fight until the government takes meaningful action to tackle climate change and that includes not building a third runway.”

Asked if they would carry out a similar protest again, she said: “If that is what it takes.”

The group of 12 were welcomed outside court by their supporters, and they were all wearing Tshirts which said “#NONEWRUNWAYS: GUILTY OF PROTECTING OUT PLANET”.

At the end of the hearing Harford, 26, of Bristol, pleaded not guilty to possession of a class A drug, namely heroin on the day of the protest, and elected for a Crown Court trial.

He was granted unconditional bail, to appear at Isleworth Crown Court on January 19.

Earlier in the proceedings three other protesters pleaded not guilty to the same charge and will face trial later in the New Year.

Isabelle Anderson, 30, of Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, who was part of a third group protesting on the day, pleaded not guilty.

She was granted conditional bail until her trail on February 6, at Uxbridge magistrate court.

Sophia Lysaczanko, 28, of Tottenham, north London, pleaded not guilty and was granted conditional bail to appear Uxbridge Magistrates on February 7.

Margaret Charnley, 67, of Bristol, who was excused from attending court today, also pleaded not guilty and is due to stand trial at Uxbridge alongside Lysaczanko on February 7.

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