Five Smash EDO protestors have been cleared of conspiring to attack the EDO/ITT arms factory because the jury accepted they had been trying to prevent Israeli war crimes.
Simon Levin, from Brighton, and Bristol-based Tom Woodhead, Ornella Saibene, Bob Nicholls and Harvey Tadman were found not guilty by unanimous verdict at Hove Crown Court yesterday.
Another defendant, Rosa Bellamy from Brighton, was discharged on June 15 due to lack of evidence. The verdicts on the remaining two defendants, Chris Osmond from Brighton and Elijah James Smith from Bristol, are expected on Friday (July 2).
All but Bellamy admitted breaking into the factory in Home Farm Road, Moulsecoomb on January 17 last year and causing £180,000 worth of damage.
Six anti-arms trade activists entered weapons factory EDO/ITT in Brighton calling themselves “citizens’ decommissioners”. ITT/EDO MBM, on Home Farm Road, Brighton, manufactures release clips for F15s and F16s as well as the Paveway system of munitions which were used by the Israeli military against civilians in Gaza.
The “decommissioners” barricaded themselves inside, and proceeded to break computers and other equipment, putting an assembly area and machinery used to make bomb release mechanisms out of action.
However, they argued a defence of lawful excuse – that they “decommissioned” the factory to prevent civilians being killed by the Israeli military.
The verdict has been welcomed by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).
Spokeswoman Kaye Stearman said: “We are pleased to see that the actions of these five decommissioners have been seen in their proper context – a heartfelt and genuine protest against a company making weapons for an illegitimate war against civilians.
“The jury listened to the evidence and to the defence arguments of necessity and came to the conclusion that this was a case of conscience, not conspiracy. We hope that the remaining decommissioners will also be acquitted.”