City airport protesters plead guilty to aggravated trespass

City airport protesters plead guilty to aggravated trespass

Nine people who occupied the runway at London City airport as part of a Black Lives Matter protest have admitted aggravated trespass.

More than 130 flights were grounded when the group chained themselves together at 5.30am on September 6.

About 9,000 passengers were affected when the runway was shut until midday.

The group of nine all pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates' Court to aggravated trespass by disrupting a person engaged in a lawful activity.

They were all given an 18-month conditional discharge except for two defendants, Deborah Francis-Grayson and Alex Etchart, who had previous convictions for similar protests.

Francis-Grayson, 31, was given a three-year conditional discharge while Etchart, 26, received a two-year conditional discharge.

All nine defendants were also ordered to pay prosecution costs of £95.

The court heard the nine protesters used rafts to cross the surrounding river.

They then climbed the dock to access the runway where they set up a tripod and one person chained himself to the tarmac.

The other protesters then fixed themselves together with armlocks which contained a metal tube and expandable foam.

Sentencing, District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe said she did not "underestimate the sincerity of your beliefs" but found it "hard to see the link between the [Black Lives Matter] protest movement" and City airport.

She said the disruption caused was not "a minor matter" as it "put fears and doubts in minds" that areas of the airport "are easily accessible".

Prosecutor Philip McGhee said the disruption had "inevitably" caused a negative reputation to the airport and airlines but it was "not possible to quantify" the costs, the BBC reported.


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