Warmth, commitment and overruns: Week 3 of the Combe Haven 19 Trials

September 28, 2013 by combehavendefenders

Picture by Erica Smith

Picture by Erica Smith

The more video footage I see of the beauty of the landscape in Combe Haven and the principled stand taken by the protesters in freezing conditions, to protest against a destructive, unnecessary and costly scheme, the more I think they’ve got the wrong people in court” – defendant Tom Druitt.

The third week of Combe Haven 19 trials began on Monday 23 September (after a week-long hiatus). This was Trial #4, involving six defendants, all of whom were arrested for allegedly occupying trees during the eviction of Base Camp in January 2013.

By many accounts this was a dull week (one observer in the public gallery claimed that “Surely it is punishment enough to have to sit through that for more than 2 hours!”), with reams of video evidence and some lengthy legal arguments. Nonetheless, the trial was well attended by supporters – both locals and friends from London and Brighton. One of the defendants told us that she had been “touched by the warmth of the support from local people involved in the campaign” and that “their kindness and generosity has made this whole experience more bearable”.

Trial #4 was interrupted on Tuesday (24 September) afternoon for the belated verdict of Trial #1. Though the judge found the defendant guilty on both charges (‘Aggravated Trespass’ and ‘Resisting a Police Officer’), rejecting his lawyer’s ‘ingenious’ legal arguments, the sentence was again very light: a two-year conditional discharge. As with Rosamond’s case, the judge awarded no costs against the defendant, making this pyrrhic victory #2 for the prosecution, who appear to have spent a small fortune on these prosecutions.

In his judgement the judge described the defendant in Trial #1 as “a very committed environmentalist” who had been “there to protest the environmental consequences of the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road”. He also explained that running away is not by itself sufficient grounds to prove resisting arrest (which is well worth knowing).

By Friday (27 June) the prosecution had still not finished presenting its evidence, so the case – which was originally scheduled to finish no later than the Friday – will continue next week, bumping Trial #5.

Trial #4 will now begin again at 10am on Wednesday 2 October – and is likely to continue until (at least) Friday. Please come along and support! New dates for Trial #5 will be announced at 1.45am on Tuesday 1 October.

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