Five Extinction Rebellion activists who blockaded an Amazon distribution centre on Black Friday last year have been convicted of aggravated trespass and sentenced for their roles in the protest.
Nicholas Onley, 60, wore a mask of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as he sat astride a wooden rocket on a bamboo structure during the protest at an access point to the facility in Tilbury, Essex on November 26, 2021.
A group of activists blocked an Amazon distribution centre. Ian West
Onley, of Richmond Road, Tottenham, north London, admitted aggravated trespass over the protest, changing his plea on the second day of his trial at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday.
Four more defendants denied the offence and were found guilty after their trial at the same court.
Emily Robinson, 27, of no fixed abode, and Luke Whiting, 26, of Grove Road, Bow, east London sat on top of a Luton van that was parked across the entrance to the rear of the Amazon centre, blocking access for HGVs to leave or enter the site.
The van had a sign on it which said “Black Friday exploits people and planet”.
A large figure depicting Jeff Bezos outside the distribution centre. Ian West
Julie Hermann, 38, of Robsart Street, Brixton, south London and Sarah Michel, 43, of Fortis Green Road, Muswell Hill, north London had laid on the road to obstruct access and had secured themselves into a concrete anchor so they could not be removed.
District judge Christopher Williams said: “There’s no dispute in this case each of you was on that land with the intention of causing disruption to what’s a lawful activity.”
Whiting, who works at the Bank of England, said he had carried out Land Registry searches and “didn’t see any indication it was private land”.
Interpreter Michel, HR worker Hermann and Robinson, a freelancer for a charity, also said they believed they were on a public highway and did not know they were trespassing.
But the judge said: “It seems to me you made wholly inadequate inquiries.
“You ignored all the signage, you ignored the lorry drivers when they told you (it was private land), you ignored the police when they told you.”
Onley, who said he had been working at a food bank, was fined £360 and ordered to pay a £36 victim surcharge.
Whiting was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work and Robinson was ordered to complete 80 hours of unpaid work, both as part of 12-month community orders, and both were ordered to pay £200 towards prosecution costs and a £95 surcharge.
Hermann and Michel, who are both parents, were fined instead.
Hermann was fined £600, ordered to pay £200 costs and a £60 surcharge, while Michel was fined £400 and ordered to pay £200 costs and a £40 surcharge.