Protester who daubed Brighton offices with anti-Israel graffiti guilty of criminal damage

Posted On 29 Mar 2022 at 3:04 pm

Bliss Winters, aka Charlie Turner, talks about their activism in a Palestine Action Twitter video

A Palestine protester who daubed red paint on Brighton offices has been found guilty of criminal damage.

Bliss Winters, who gave the name Charlie Turner in court, was given a conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £22 victim surcharge – but no court costs or compensation.

During his trial earlier this month, the court heard the sociology student was caught by police with red paint on their hands after they sprayed anti-Israel slogans on Sovereign House in Church Street last December.

The building was chosen because its managing agents Jones Lang Lascelle also manage a building in which Israeli-owned drone manufacturer Elbit has offices in London.

There is no direct link between Sovereign House and Elbit, or Israel.

Winters was charged with criminal damage and pleaded not guilty. At their trial, they said they had been acting in the hope it would help stop Israeli attacks on Palestine.

Giving her judgement today, district judge Amanda Kelly said she found Winters to be a compelling witness when he said he genuinely believed he was assisting the people of Palestine.

But she said this while this meant their human rights were engaged under Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, it was not enough of a defence.

She said: “I find that his right to freedom of expression is outweighed by the need to protect the rights and freedoms of others and prevent disorder and crime.

“Although not permanent, the damage was certainly not trivial. It took two attempts by a professional cleaning team to remove the paint and considerable expense.

“It also caused significant inconvenience to those who had to set about removing it in the hours that followed.

“The victims in this case are private enterprises. It simply cannot be right that in a democratic society, any person who has strong beliefs about a particular issue can damage the property of someone else with immunity.

“To hold otherwise would be to reject one of the foundations of a democratic society.

“I also consider it relevant there were many other ways that the defendant could have sought to express himself without causing criminal damage, particularly as I heard in evidence that he is an artist.

“For example, he could have erected some sort of banner, or poster, or flag or such like, or organised a traditional-style demonstration.

“Without seeking to stifle healthy debate and expression, there is a strong public interest in deterring people from exercising their Article 10 rights in a way that results in damage to other people’s property.”

Winters, 19, is a member of Palestine Action, who protested outside court both before their trial and before today’s hearing.

  1. Raspurin Reply

    Amazing that the judge realise we, the public, have no want or need for these criminals acting with impunity.

    It’s a pity they didn’t get a real sentence, but hopefully Brighton University does the right thing and chuck him out on the streets because of their criminal record.

    Well done!

  2. David Guy Reply

    £22 victim surcharge? How is that a punishment? Not even a slap on his/her wrist.

    For the record the Arab population in the Palestinian Authority is growing at 1.5X the world average population growth and Gaza 2.5X. Decimate lives in Palestine my ‘A’.

  3. Sarah Tricks Reply

    Ironic that ‘them, theirs and they’ would be thrown off the nearest tall building if they went to Gaza! Yet they commit crimes on British streets in the name of Palestine?

  4. Punter23 Reply

    Impunity/Immunity: sounds like a Edwardian vaudeville stage act = I hope the court stenographer sorts it all out. Sovereign House is up the hill round the corner from Jew Street.

  5. Alan Henness Reply

    Is that the same bloke who was arrested by the police this afternoon while protesting against women discussing their rights in Victoria park?

    Three arrests made during Kellie-Jay Keen rally in Brighton

  6. Oswald Reply

    In any other country a good hiding from a couple of cops would be much more of a deterrence and a £25 slap on the wrist. Would cost everyone a lot less money and time too.

    To put it in context that’s basically saying criminal damage is a kin to not paying for your parking for the day…

  7. Lori Lee Reply

    And he’s at it again… he was arrested again yesterday while trying to intimate and threatening a group of women who had gathered to discuss womens rights.
    If I were this guys mother I would be utterly ashamed.

  8. Hove Guy Reply

    If I were this guys mother I would have strangled him at birth.

  9. Jason Reply

    There’s no excuse for vandalism, but he does have a point. Palestinians were forced out of their country around 1948 to make room for a people whose true homeland was a land known as Khazaria, now renamed Ukraine (though I accept that the borders may have moved a little).

  10. Hove Guy Reply

    “Giving her judgement today, district judge Amanda Kelly said she found Winters to be a compelling witness when he said he genuinely believed he was assisting the people of Palestine.”
    This clearly shows bias on the part of the judge, which probably accounts for the feeble slap on the wrist, but no court costs or compensation. He, she or it must have been laughing all the way back from the court.

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