Teen told to pay compensation for 100ft crane protest

Police arrest and handcuff protester Alex Sidney as he comes down from the crane on Duke Street in Norwich.

Police arrest and handcuff protester Alex Sidney as he comes down from the crane on Duke Street in Norwich. - Credit: Denise Bradley

A teenage climate protester who camped at the top of a 100ft crane for two nights has been ordered to pay compensation for cutting a chain to access the structure.

Cycle courier Alex Sidney, 18, climbed the crane on Duke Street in Norwich early on November 7 last year carrying a sleeping bag, supplies and several banners promoting the climate protest group Extinction Rebellion.

At Norwich Magistrates' Court on Monday, he admitted to the criminal damage of a chain belonging to Carter Construction.

Prosecutor Paul Roach said the defendant had entered the building site by climbing a fence then climbed a red crane, having used a disc cutter to cut a chain that was held in place by a padlock.

Protester Alex Sidney as he ends his vigil up the crane in Duke Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Protester Alex Sidney as he ends his vigil up the crane in Duke Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

He said nobody from the construction company had come to court to be a witness and that no evidence was offered in respect of three further charges of aggravated trespass, obstructing police and displaying a sign with intention to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Sidney, of Yaxham Road, Dereham, Norfolk, was ordered to pay £45 compensation for the damaged chain and £100 towards prosecution costs.

District judge Shanta Deonarine, handing the defendant an 18-month conditional discharge, told him: "You stay out of trouble and go back to being a person of good character, it gives you a chance to have this end at the end of the conditional discharge."

Alex Sidney ends his protest and comes down the crane in Duke Street, with fire search and rescue cr

Alex Sidney ends his protest and comes down the crane in Duke Street, with fire search and rescue crew. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020

Sidney had denied all charges at an earlier hearing before admitting the criminal damage charge on the day of his listed trial.

Hannah Webb, mitigating, said Sidney had prepared a statement explaining why he did what he did.

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But the judge, noting that the defendant was convicted of a charge of criminal damage, said the courtroom was "not an arena or a forum in which to make statements which don't assist me today".

The statement was not read out.

Photographs taken at the top of the Norwich crane which Alex Sidney climbed as part of an Extinction

Photographs taken at the top of the Norwich crane which Alex Sidney climbed as part of an Extinction Rebellion protest.  - Credit: ALEX SIDNEY

Ms Webb said Sidney works as a cycle courier delivering food for Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo.

She said a curfew, in place as part of bail conditions ahead of the court case and monitored by an electronic tag, had a "significant impact" on his earnings.

The defendant told the judge he hoped to cycle around the UK on a gap year if Covid restrictions allow.

Police arrest and handcuff protester Alex Sidney as he comes down from the crane in Duke Street. Pic

Police arrest and handcuff protester Alex Sidney as he comes down from the crane in Duke Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020


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