Two anti-fracking protestors have been found guilty of aggravated trespassing after they stopped a lorry from entering a Derbyshire work site.
Chesterfield magistrates’ court heard on December 4 how Scott Breen, 44, and Rosalyn Massey, 42, had locked arms together with a metal tube and refused to move from an entrance at drilling company PR Marriott Ltd, at Danesmoor.
District Judge Andrew Davison found Breen and Massey guilty of aggravated trespassing after police had to be called to the site on Old Pitt Lane to cut the offenders free from the tube and remove them from the site.
He said police acted appropriately and the defendants were convicted on the basis officers believed they were locked together and only when they were released did it become apparent the defendants could have freed themselves.
District Judge Davison found the defendants’ actions therefore amounted to aggravated trespassing.
He said: “They were committing and intended to commit the trespass and they targeted the main red gates to Marriott’s with full knowledge there was a heavy goods vehicle with a heavy load due to enter that plant that morning.”
It was acknowledged the defendants were protesting because they believe fracking should be an illegal activity and that they fear it poses dangers and risks to the environment and the public.
But after they were warned to move away from the area by police they refused to do so, according to District Judge Davison, despite knowing they could have disengaged themselves from the tube.
However, District Judge Davison respected the defendants’ right to protest in a peaceful manner but stressed that in this case they had overstepped the mark during the incident on June 4.
He said: “The defendants made a choice and they did not act any longer in a respectable and proportionate manner in their otherwise peaceful protest.
“And they overstepped that fine line and I find both guilty of the offence as charged.”
Massey, of The Broadway, Norton, Stourbridge, and Breen, of Misson Springs Protection Camp, near Doncaster, were both found guilty of aggravated trespassing on the grounds of failing to leave land after being given a lawful direction to do so.
District Judge Davison added: “I respect the defendants’ right to protest but in my view they have gone slightly too far.”
Jobless Massey, who is on benefits, was fined £120 and must pay £250 costs and a £30 victim surcharge.
Unemployed Breen, who has previously been given three conditional discharges for similar offences, was sentenced to a 12 month community order with 120 hours of unpaid work.
He must also pay £250 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.
The court heard the protestors had targeted the Marriott’s site because the firm provide drills and equipment for the fracking industry.