Climate activists convicted of criminal damage after smashing glass door of JP Morgan


Activitists had used hammers and chisels to cause 'many thousands of pounds' of damage to the bank's offices in London


Five climate change activists have been convicted of smashing a glass revolving door at JP Morgan's European headquarters after a judge said their beliefs did not "afford them a defence".

Stephanie Aylett, 29, Pamela Bellinger, 66, Amy Pritchard, 38, Adelheid Russenberger, 32 and Rosemary Webster, 66, used hammers and chisels to cause "many thousands of pounds" of damage during the Extinction Rebellion protest.

They smashed a custom-built revolving door and a large glazed panel at the entrance to the US bank's Victoria Embankment offices in the City of London on 1 September 2021.

Pritchard told Inner London crown court the policies of JP Morgan had led to the deaths of "hundreds of thousands of children".

But the judge, Silas Reid, asked the jury to "put aside sympathy or prejudice" when the trial began.

He said: "You may have views about those actions or organisations, you may have views about climate change. This is not a trial about climate change. It is a trial about criminal damage. It is nothing more than that and nothing less."

The five women were convicted of causing criminal damage after a two-week trial. Reid adjourned sentencing until 7 June.

Reid told the jury: "The reasons behind their protests don't afford them a defence in this case. None of these defendants did these things for the fun of it, or because they are criminal people.

"They did it because they honestly believed it was something they needed to do. Well, they are not allowed to do it. It is a crime."

During legal arguments Reid had ruled Aylett and her co-defendants could talk about their beliefs in relation to climate change in front of the jury.

He said: "Ms Aylett is entitled to tell the jury about her beliefs. She is entitled to say what her beliefs about climate change are.

"I would be shocked, having previously dealt with Ms Aylett, if the jury came to any conclusion other than that she holds her beliefs about climate change with anything other than the utmost honesty.

"They are perfectly entitled to talk about their beliefs in relation to climate change. What they hoped to achieve must be relevant.

"The depth to which they have feelings about something is potentially very important. What will not happen is the defendants using the witness box to further any protest."

Giving evidence, Russenberger told jurors: "Protest and direct action can, and does, lead to change ... it's through protest and direct action that we have the right to vote even if we don't own property.

"I do deny that the damage was criminal, not all damage is criminal. I thought about how the board at JP Morgan would surely want to know about what was happening. The prosecution said I was going to damage the building come what may but that is not the case.

"I have never suggested that the board members of JP Morgan knew what they were doing was wrong. I damaged a window because I believed that the board members of JP Morgan would consent to the damage."

The five - Aylett, of St Albans, Herts; Bellinger, of Leicester; Pritchard, of Walthamstow; Russenberger, of Richmond-upon-Thames, south-west London; and Webster, of Dorchester, Dorset, all denied but were convicted of criminal damage.




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