Just Stop Oil protesters who climbed the Dartford Crossing bridge have been imprisoned

Morgan Trowland and Marcus Decker received prison sentences of three years and two years and seven months, respectively, as handed down by the Southend Crown Court.

Two protesters belonging to the Just Stop Oil movement were imprisoned for scaling the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge on the Dartford Crossing, leading to a traffic jam and the bridge being closed by the police. The judge emphasized his intention to deter others from following in their footsteps.

Using ropes and climbing equipment, Morgan Trowland, aged 40, and Marcus Decker, aged 34, climbed the bridge, which links Kent and Essex via the M25. According to prosecutor Adam King, the bridge was shut from 4 am on October 17, 2022, to 9 pm the following day, resulting in traffic congestion as vehicles had to use the tunnels instead.

At Basildon Crown Court, both defendants were unanimously convicted of causing a public nuisance. Trowland was sentenced to three years in prison by Judge Shane Collery KC at Southend Crown Court, while Decker received a jail term of two years and seven months.

The judge stated, “You must be penalized for the disorder you created and to discourage others from imitating your actions.”

During the trial, it was revealed that Trowland, who had participated in several protests before, played a “leading role,” while Decker had one previous conviction related to a protest. The judge noted that the pair seemed to believe they knew better than everyone else, showing little regard for others.

“You caused this very important road to be closed for 40 hours,” the judge stated, adding that the disruption impacted tens of thousands, with some experiencing significant disruptions. Trowland and Decker had been in custody since their first appearance in court six months earlier on October 20 in Southend.

Prosecutor Adam King revealed that the protesters had climbed to a height of nearly 200ft above the road and unfurled a large “Just Stop Oil” banner while setting up hammocks to stay up there. “The closure caused gridlock for miles around throughout that period, which we say was the point,” Mr. King stated.

Essex Police revealed that a heavily pregnant woman who needed medical attention, someone who missed the funeral of their best friend of 35 years, and a business that lost more than £160,000 in earnings were among those affected by the traffic disruption.

During the trial, Trowland’s counsel, Jacob Bindman, said that the protest marked the end of his client’s participation in this kind of activity, and he did not plan to engage in any further large-scale disruptive protests.

Rebecca Martin, Decker’s counsel, stated that her client was not part of the planning process and would not take part in further disruptive protests. Nonetheless, the judge saw “no signs” that the defendants were “any less committed to the causes you espouse than before.”

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