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Author Topic: No jail for dads' rights protesters  (Read 1298 times)


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No jail for dads' rights protesters
« on: Oct 14, 2005, 02:45:00 PM »
No jail for dads' rights protesters Oct 11 2005


By Paul Rhys, South London Press
THREE Fathers4Justice protesters who delayed thousands of rush-hour commuters when they scaled a signal gantry over Britain's busiest railway line escaped jail.

Helena Tilbury, 19, Garry Hollington, 30 and Martin Matthews, 37, donned Santa Claus outfits before clambering up the metalwork to unfurl a banner reading, Put the father back into Christmas.

Another asked: "Have your kids been stuffed by [Margaret] Hodge this year?"

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Their stunt - which held up hundreds of morning rush-hour trains just before Christmas last year - cost the rail authorities £96,000.

And the three were slammed as "irresponsible" by a judge after being found guilty of obstructing trains coming through Clapham Juntion.

Judge Roger Chapple said their publicity-seeking venture "did their cause no good whatsoever".

Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court in central London heard how the campaigners staged a four-hour sit-in on December 16, 2004.

Prosecutors had accused Edward Gorecki, 47, of organising the protest from a nearby roadside but he was cleared after Judge Chapple ruled there was not enough evidence to convict him.

Judge Chapple also cleared all four of endangering passenger safety.

The protest above the track between Queenstown Road, Battersea, and Vauxhall, stations prompted fears that the stop and go lights had been covered or tampered with, jurors were told.

As a result, Network Rail bosses told drivers of some 350 trains to go slow and a number of services were cancelled.

The three protesters insisted they never intended to cause delays.

Giving Tilbury, Hollington and Matthews a two-year conditional discharge, Judge Chapple said: "My purpose at this stage is not about curtailing the legal or lawful methods you use to pursue or advance your cause.

"Your actions caused severe disruption and delays to very many people. The right to peacefully protest means you do not affect others by your actions against their wishes.

"People must be free to spend time listening to you, thinking about your causes or not and that's their choice and you do not take that choice away from them.

"Hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the long-suffering travelling public were delayed because of you.

"Action like this does your cause no good whatsoever."

Tilbury, of Abridge Way, Barking, Essex, Hollington, of Belfairs Drive, Chadwell Heath, Essex, and Matthews, of Westfields, Barnes, Southwest London all denied obstructing an engine or carriage on the railway on December 16 last year.

But they were unanimously convicted by the jury after one-and-a-half hours of deliberations.

Gorecki, of Rogers Gardens, Dagenham, Essex, had denied the same charge and a further charge of endangering the safety of rail passengers on the same day.

Tilbury, Matthews and Hollington were each ordered to pay £350 costs.



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