A Brighton activist who graffitied Insulate Britain on a court building has been jailed for two weeks.
Venetia Carter, 58, used wash-off chalk spray to daub the slogan on Crawley Magistrates Court last month in support of fellow climate activists.
A group of nine people were due to appear charged with causing a public nuisance by obstructing junction 3 of the motorway on September 13 last year. They are due to stand trial at Lewes Crown Court next week.
Yesterday, Carter was herself in the dock charged with criminal damage, which she admitted – but was shocked when district judge Amanda Kelly sent her to prison for a fortnight.
Carter, of Sutherland Road, is now speaking to a solicitor with the intention of appealing the sentence.
Ms Kelly told Carter: “This was a deliberate act of vandalism that was designed to attack not only a public court house but the criminal justice system itself.
“By graffitiing the place where the court sits, and posing for photographs that were then distributed so widely on social media and in the press, you were sticking two fingers up at the rule of law and the authority of the court.
“I have had regard to the sentencing guidelines and I take the view that this is a case of higher culpability and greater harm. This was a pre-meditated act causing damage to a public amenity and it has caused significant social harm for the reasons I have given.
“I take into account your good character, your early guilty plea and your remorse. But the only appropriate sentence in this case is an immediate custodial sentence.
“I have reduced my starting point of six weeks imprisonment to two weeks to reflect your good character, your remorse and your early guilty plea.”
Extinction Rebellion today published a statement which Carter, who represented herself, read out in court during yesterday’s hearing.
In it, she says the slogan had been largely washed off by the time she had been questioned by police, which took several hours. She also said she offered to clean the traces off herself.
She said: “I am here because of a non-violent act taken as a rational and compassionate response to the failure of our government. It is failing to meet legally-binding targets for carbon emissions set under the Paris Accord.
“It is failing to communicate to the people at large the emergency that Parliament itself has declared. This failure could cost us our lives, our children’s and grandchildren’s lives.
“It seems that what I have done is a crime and I have been advised there is no defence in law that I could offer with a reasonable hope of success.
“I know that it is not a crime to be a bystander, to watch as the world burns, when scientists are pleading with us to act to avert the unimaginable suffering entailed by global ecological and societal collapse.
“But I would rather stand here and plead guilty to criminal damage than to stand on the sidelines, wringing my hands and bear the guilt of failing to act at this crucial point in history.”
Any appeal for a sentence at a magistrates court is heard at a crown court.
Good judge-ment = 2 weeks? No time at all, out in
Should be 2 months.
Thanks to Venetia and her comrades for their clarity and courage. Their actions are highlighting the government’s criminal failure to take urgent action to mitigate the climate catastrophe that is already upon us. A prison sentence is clearly disproportionate.
So in your view, it is completely acceptable for protesters going around vandalising’s buildings, disabling vehicles, blocking roads and breaking laws.
No Dani, it’s thanks to people like Venetia who cause more problems with their actions. It’s thanks to these types of people that my daughter missed her hospital appointment because they blocked the road.
It’s thanks to people like this who I suspect let my tyres down, (it’s not even a SUV) and caused two additional vehicles to be used to cover the cleaning work we were doing and a third to run tyres along to the garage for re-inflating.
Yes great work in helping the environment don’t you think, thick as two planks.
Shhhh domestic terrorist! You lot are enemies of the state and should be locked up in a lunatic asylum away from us normal folk! The jail term for these domestic terrorists should be life imprisonment
Well done to Venetia for highlighting (as it were) with her pen the threat to life on our planet. If she were willing to do so, then the stint in gaol would provide material to continue the climate-emergency campaign. Any campaign needs variety to keep the narrative going.
It’s spelt JAIL illiterate and a domestic terrorist! Wow your must be proud!
Thanks very much to Venetia for putting her liberty at risk to further the climate change cause
Something has clearly gone wrong at Crawley Magistrates Court. According to the sentencing guidelines for criminal damage convictions, there is no justification for a custodial sentence.
Something has clearly gone wrong with those campaigning about climate change.
They have lost all sense of proportion and seem to behave like a self-congratulatory bubble – or like a religious cult, in old money.
Why not just take a banner to the court case, and hang it up? Why start defacing buildings?
You really need to know when you are over stepping the mark.
This is a great way to lose public support – including mine – over what most of us understand is an important issue.
They’re just a bunch of idiots that need to be locked up in an asylum somewhere!
I can see that graffitiing the wall of a court house could be thought provocative and disrespectful to our legal institutions but once you hear know the truth about what is happening to our planet you have a moral obligation to do something. I have always put the issue to the back of my mind assuming that governments would work something out which is clearly not happening.
I don’t know the woman who painted the wall outside Crawley court, and I can see why her reported remark about the legal system would not go down well but I understand her frustration and the overwhelming need to take some drastic action now in the face of a climate emergency which we have ignored for so long hoping it will go away. It hasn’t. and we are at the point of no return.
As far as the punishment fitting the crime is concerned: there is so much graffiti around Brighton and I cannot help thinking that if something inconsequential had been daubed on the same wall it would not have been judged ‘a serious offence’. Surely something that is consequential should be judged more leniently rather that more severely.
Jill S, Brighton, great grandmother
So just how does graffiti on public building help the cause? When will activists like this understand criminal behaviour turns most people away from their very valid cause.
All those idiots who think we should ignore climate change are in for a severe shock. The government should be considered criminal for not acting on the science. Some of these comments illustrate how many people really don’t believe science, or hate their children and grand children. XR and insulate Britain should be appreciated for there selflessness. They are prepared to go to prison, in an effort to save your kids.
It is a known fact that the climate changes naturally and has done since time began. We go through natural periods like the ice age. Science shows we have been suffering with this climate change for over 4 billion years.
Evidence shows that our contribution to the immediate environment is affecting the greenhouse effect is partly caused by what we do, but the science states It is crucial to understand that the greenhouse effect is critical to life on earth. Without a blanket of greenhouse gases trapping in heat, the temperature would be bitterly cold, and humans would be unable to survive. However, by adding extra greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, humans have created an enhanced greenhouse effect.
So the science is there, clearly shows climate change is natural but greenhouse effect is something else and we can do something about that.
XR and insulate Britain and similar groups do their cause harm by doing what they do, i.e., committing crimes against individuals and vandalising things.
That gets no support at all, you quote the government as being criminal yet happy that people protest in a criminal way.
I wish you were right Helen, but there is near unanimous agreement among climate scientists that human induced climate change is threatening the future of human civilisation. By ignoring the calls of scientists for drastic action, governments are acting criminally in my view. Venetia Carter is a brave and principled person who is trying to alert us to the coming disasters brought about by our addiction to an unsustainable way of life.
I fully understand we need to seriously address the greenhouse effect and that I strongly support.
What annoys me is the way these protesters act.
By all means print off leaflets, do marches, lobby MP’s and all that, but doing criminal damage and disrupting peoples daily lives I don’t want any part of.
For instance the covid jab. I work very hard with limited free time being a key worker and chose the option of having the vax, that’s my personal choice.
Anti-vax protesters intimidated me and virtually stopped me entering the centre (Churchill Square). This caused me to make another appointment and loss of earnings. That’s not fair.
Letting tyres down, that isn’t helping gain support and gives the wrong message. I would support these groups but they lose it by their criminal acts.
I think these groups are doing the right thing but in the wrong way, losing support rather than gaining it.
Do we need to change what we do to help the environment, yes we do is a question I answered many a time, but can I support any groups, sadly the answer is a no.
I already do my bit, walk or bus if I can, use less energy at home (even more now with price increases) recycle as much as I can, buy loose food items, use reusable bags and that sort of thing. Okay not much but it’s something and my children are being educated in doing the same things. One of my boy got a driving licence for his work. Instead of driving to work, he often cycles or walks and uses the bus.
Thanks for your reply.I have been marching, leafleting, lobbying for 30 years and it has had little or no effect. It seems to me the situation is so serious that non-violent protest is the only thing left to do. Personally I think it should be aimed at the polluters, but how else can we get people to sit up and take notice? In my view we should be mobilising as if for a war situation. It’s that serious.
I doubt she’ll even get 2 weeks, these climate alarmists seem to be in bed with ‘the establishment’.
These well meaning but naive useful idiots seem to have invaded every aspect of government and public life