Extinction Rebellion protesters fined for digging up Trinity College lawn

Two Extinction Rebellion protesters who dug up a lawn outside a Cambridge University college have been fined and ordered to pay compensation.

The pair were among a group of around 22 people who took part in a demonstration outside 16th century Trinity College on February 17.

Extinction Rebellion cited the college’s “ties with fossil fuel companies” as a reason for the protest at the time.

Philip Botterill, prosecuting at Cambridge Magistrates’ Court, said the group of protesters “make their way to the garden lawn at Trinity College, some of them in possession of shovels”.

“They’re chanting at the time,” he said.

“A number of those present begin to dig holes in Trinity College’s lawn, thereby causing damage to it.

“Grass is loaded into wheelbarrows, carted to Barclays bank and left there.”

Extinction Rebellion protest
Extinction Rebellion protest

He said nobody was arrested on the day but that a number of people were identified later.

Gilbert Murray, 62, of Hawthorne Avenue, Norwich, and 26-year-old Gabriella Ditton, of Violet Road, Norwich, both admitted causing criminal damage to the lawn at Trinity College when they appeared in court on Wednesday.

Ditton also admitted causing criminal damage to a window in a research building run by oilfield service provider Schlumberger in Cambridge the following day, February 18.

The court heard that she spray-painted an Extinction Rebellion logo on to it.

Mr Botterill said the cost of repairing the damage to the lawn was estimated at £4,365.

District Judge John Woollard ordered that both defendants pay £198 compensation to Trinity College – dividing the total cost of the damage by the 22 protesters to reach the figure.

The court heard that there was no estimate for the cost of repairing the spray-painted window.

Ditton told the court: “We’re trying to prevent a horrible, horrible future that seems so insurmountable.”

She said she works in illustration and animation and currently makes around £100 per month.

She was fined £120 for each offence and ordered to pay £50 towards prosecution costs and a £64 statutory surcharge.

Murray told the court he is retired but that he is also a landlord, and this earned him £41,000 last year.

He was fined £480 and ordered to pay a £48 surcharge and £85 costs.

Extinction Rebellion protest
Extinction Rebellion protest

Caitlin Fay, 19, of Tudor Rose Way, Harleston, Norfolk, admitted causing criminal damage to the lawn at Trinity College.

She also pleaded guilty to nine counts of assaulting police officers in an unrelated incident on July 5.

The judge asked for a pre-sentence report to be prepared about her and he adjourned her case until September 17 at Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court.

Derek Langley, 64, of Garden Walk, Cambridge, denied causing criminal damage to Trinity College’s lawn.

He faces a trial on a date to be fixed.