31st March 2014
Section 14 trial: Day one – morning evidence
An anti-fracking campaigner at last summer’s protests at Balcombe lost consciousness after police used the pressure point arrest technique on him, a court heard this morning.
Luke Evans, 34, from Liverpool, was arrested after a sit-down protest in the entrance way to Cuadrilla’s oil exploration site on August 19th last year. He appeared for trial today at Brighton Magistrates Court, along with Katie Brown, 34, and James Jones, 19, both from Liverpool, Camille Herreman, 26, and Matthew Whitney, 30, both of Nottingham, Phillip Cawkwell, 52, of Ascot, Barry Slipper, 47, of Hythe, and Kim Turner, 57, of Brighton. Chris Seal, 30, of London, is also on trial but failed to appear in court. They are all charged with obstructing the highway. All except Mr Cawkwell are also charged with failing to comply with a police instruction imposed under the Public Order Act. They all deny the charges. The court heard that Mr Evans was arrested while sitting in the middle of a square formed by four people who had locked their arms into tubes. PC Mark Nichols gave evidence that about 4pm he asked Mr Evans to leave the entrance and move to a protest area designated by police under Section 14 of the Public Order Act. PC Nichols said Mr Evans did not comply with the instruction. “I explained the consequences that if he did not comply he would be arrested”, PC Nichols said. He said: “I asked Mr Evans if there was anything I could do or say that would encourage him to move. He failed to do so.” Mr Evans was verbally arrested but he could not be taken from the scene because a specialist police protest removal team arrived to deal with the protesters with their arms in tubes. PC Nichols explained that he and another officer later pulled Mr Evans away from the group. “I asked him if he was willing to walk to the prison van. He gave no response and we carried him to the van.” Jonathan Edwards, prosecuting, asked what response Mr Evans gave when he was cautioned. PC Nichols said: “We shall not, we shall not be moved”. Shahida Begum, defending, put it to PC Nichols: “Mr Evans had been pressure pointed and he had passed out completely.” PC Nichols replied “I didn’t pressure point him and it is not on the [police evidence gathering] video”. Miss Begum said: “Police officers had to put him down at the side of the road to see if he was ok.” PC Evans said: “It was not me. I didn’t know it had happened”. Miss Begum said when Mr Evans was put on the ground he was saying he needed some water because he had passed out. “I do not recall that”, PC Nichols said. She put it to the officer that he had written his statement at the end of the day after seeing several people and he could not be sure of the words he used to Mr Evans. “I can on this occasion because he was the only male I arrested”, PC Nichols said. The court also heard that the Section 14 order had been imposed by the then Deputy Chief Constable Giles York after a briefing from Superintendent Jane Derrick. The police were concerned that the Reclaim The Power climate camp at Balcombe from August 16th-21st would increase the numbers at the protest. The condition imposed as part of the order required protesters to use a designated protest area which was the eastern verge and carriageway of the B2036, north of the entrance to Cuadrilla’s site. On August 19th, police liaison officers distributed paper notices about the condition to demonstrators, but not to the group on trial today, the court heard. PC Nichols told the court that he was aware that demonstrators were directed by police north of the entrance onto the western verge. When asked by Miss Begum whether he knew the location of the designated protest area, he said: “North of the road was the understanding that I had.” The case continues this afternoon.