Power station protester is convicted


Carl Van Tonder has been convicted today (May 13) at Oxford Magistrates' Court of one offence of Aggravated Trespass, after climbing the main Chimney of Didcot Power Station in October of last year.

He is the last of 20 protestors to be convicted. 19 others pleaded guilty to the same offence, arising out of the same protest, at a court hearing earlier in the year. The District Judge rejected Van Tonder's submissions that he had a defence of Necessity. Van Tonder received an 18-month Conditional Discharge, and £500 costs, the latter being assessed against his means.

CPS Crown Advocate Brian Payne said after the hearing: "In bringing this successful prosecution, the CPS is not seeking to hamper or check legitimate protest. Freedom of speech is a right acknowledged in the Human Rights Act; however, protestors who step over the line of acceptable demonstration into criminal offending will be considered for prosecution. In this case, Mr Van Tonder accepted he had committed a crime in the way that he, and the others, conducted their protest, but he sought to defend his actions by reference to his beliefs. The court did not accept that there was a defence for what he did."