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THREE climate change protesters who were found guilty of aggravated trespass after they ran on to the pitch during the Ashes series at Lord’s have been sentenced.
The Just Stop Oil protest carried out by Judit Murray, 69, Daniel Knorr, 21, and Jacob Bourne, 27, stopped play during the second Test between England and Australia on June 28, as security and ground staff cleaned up orange powder that was thrown on the pitch and ensured the ground was not damaged.
The three, who said they wanted to create headlines for their climate change protest and did not want to cause disruption or damage the pitch, were found guilty after a trial at City of London Magistrates’ Court.
England player Jonny Bairstow carried Knorr off the pitch, champagne corks and fruit were thrown by cricket fans at Bourne as he was led off the field, and Murray was tackled before she could reach the wicket and held down on the grass.
The court heard there is a 3ft-high metallic fence in front of the grandstand at Lord’s, followed by a gap and 3ft-high LED hoardings which loop around the ground, and then a boundary rope which all serve as “markers” — along with many signs and loudspeaker messages which warn ticket-holders they are not allowed to go on to the field of play.
Nick Rowe, security operations manager at Lord’s, said the protesters got “very close” to the wicket and play had to stop for a short period immediately after the incident.
He said he was near the Allen Stand at the ground in St John’s Wood, north-west London, when “an unexpected roar from the crowd, much louder than you would expect from a first over” alerted him that something was wrong.
He previously told the court: “I heard a roar from the crowd. Obviously there were people on the pitch. There was a big cloud of orange powder in the air.”
Mr Rowe said he could see that play had stopped and the stewarding team ran towards the group of people who had been detained.
He told the court one of the men was detained on the ground before being taken away, while another was carried off the grass by Mr Bairstow.
Nick Collins, the head of security at Lord’s, who said the match was “probably the biggest game of our season,” added: “It impacts the rest of the day. The biggest worry for me is whether the ground has been damaged.
“Cricket has wide specifications and a set of rules about the pitch being played on. If the pitch had been damaged in some way, we could not have played.
“We had to check. We had blowers come on. Everyone was trying to blow the powder away and check the ground was not affected.”
Adeela Khan, defending Bourne and Knorr, said the disruption was “minimal” during the offence as there was a delay of four minutes and there was no damage to the pitch.
She said the offence was “carefully planned” in terms of timing to minimise the risk of harm to the defendants, players and security staff.
Katrina Walcott, defending Murray, said the defendants did not touch the wicket, were “quickly removed,” and clean-up lasted “a matter of seconds.”
She added: “She is very remorseful for the actions, she did apologise at the time.”
District Judge Neeta Minhas sentenced Murray, of Plough Road, West Ewell, Surrey; Knorr, of Green Street, Oxford; and Bourne, of Moorland Road, Hyde Park, Leeds, at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday to a 12-month community order, 60 hours of unpaid work and made an exclusion requirement from Lord’s cricket ground for 12 months.
Judge Minhas said: “Whilst you may not have intended harm and you say you co-ordinated action to minimise any harm, and I accept there was no harm in terms of damage to the pitch or from yourselves towards security officers or players, it’s such a public location where there were so many people who are very much enjoying the activity, who may have been drinking, your action will have an unknown effect on those in the stands.
“It also causes difficulty for security at that venue who have to control the crowd.
“It also takes security away from doing the job that they’re supposed to be doing, while they are detaining you and ensuring your safety from the crowd.
“I recollect evidence about items being thrown from the crowd which they then had to manage.”
A Just Stop Oil spokesperson told the Star: “Seven of the last ten months have been over the 1.5 degree threshold agreed in Paris by world leaders in 2015. 2023 will be the hottest year since records began. This week we are seeing the effects of climate breakdown in our own back yard as extreme weather and flooding has now claimed the lives of seven people in the UK.
“Meanwhile, our leaders are approving new oil fields at the behest of their donors. It’s time to do something about it. Sign up to march from 29th October at juststopoil.org.”
The defendants will each also have to pay £330 in costs.
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