Four charged with criminal damage following toppling of Bristol’s Colston statue

Four people have been charged with criminal damage after the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston.

Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 32, and Sage Willoughby, 21, will appear before Bristol Magistrates' Court on January 25 next year for their first hearing, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

The bronze memorial to the 17th century slave merchant was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7, before being dumped in Bristol Harbour.

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BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: The statue of slave trader Edward Colston is retrieved from Bristol Harbour by a salvage team on June 11, 2020 in Bristol, England. The statue was pulled from its plinth in the city centre and thrown in the water by anti-racism campaigners during a Black Lives Matter protest. (Photo by Andrew Lloyd/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: The statue of slave trader Edward Colston is retrieved from Bristol Harbour by a salvage team on June 11, 2020 in Bristol, England. The statue was pulled from its plinth in the city centre and thrown in the water by anti-racism campaigners during a Black Lives Matter protest. (Photo by Andrew Lloyd/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: The statue of slave trader Edward Colston is retrieved from Bristol Harbour by a salvage team on June 11, 2020 in Bristol, England. The statue was pulled from its plinth in the city centre and thrown in the water by anti-racism campaigners during a Black Lives Matter protest. (Photo by Andrew Lloyd/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: The statue of slave trader Edward Colston is retrieved from Bristol Harbour by a salvage team on June 11, 2020 in Bristol, England. The statue was pulled from its plinth in the city centre and thrown in the water by anti-racism campaigners during a Black Lives Matter protest. (Photo by Andrew Lloyd/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: The statue of slave trader Edward Colston is retrieved from Bristol Harbour by a salvage team on June 11, 2020 in Bristol, England. The statue was pulled from its plinth in the city centre and thrown in the water by anti-racism campaigners during a Black Lives Matter protest. (Photo by Andrew Lloyd/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: The statue of slave trader Edward Colston is retrieved from Bristol Harbour by a salvage team on June 11, 2020 in Bristol, England. The statue was pulled from its plinth in the city centre and thrown in the water by anti-racism campaigners during a Black Lives Matter protest. (Photo by Andrew Lloyd/Getty Images)
Protesters pull down a statue of Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in College Green, Bristol, in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
Protesters pull down a statue of Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in College Green, Bristol, in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
Protesters throw statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
Protesters throw statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
Protesters dragging the statue of Edward Colston to Bristol harbourside during a Black Lives Matter protest rally in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
Protesters throw statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
Protesters throw statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
Protesters throw statue of Edward Colston into Bristol harbour during a Black Lives Matter protest rally, in memory of George Floyd who was killed on May 25 while in police custody in the US city of Minneapolis.
BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 11: The statue of slave trader Edward Colston is retrieved from Bristol Harbour by a salvage team on June 11, 2020 in Bristol, England. The statue was pulled from its plinth in the city centre and thrown in the water by anti-racism campaigners during a Black Lives Matter protest. (Photo by Andrew Lloyd/Getty Images)
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It was later recovered from the water by Bristol City Council and assessed to have suffered £3,750 worth of damage.

No arrests were made at the time but Avon and Somerset Police launched an investigation.

The CPS said on Wednesday that it had authorised charges following a review of a file of evidence from the force.

A spokesman said: "The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against all four are now active and that they have the right to a fair trial.

"It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."

Following the toppling of the statue, officers reviewed CCTV footage and other pictures and video to identify those believed to be involved.

One man was arrested, with seven men and one woman asked to attend a police station for a voluntary interview.

In September, Avon and Somerset Police said detectives would approach the CPS for a charging decision against four people – three men and a woman.

The five other people – men aged 18, 20, 29, 33 and 47 – were offered a conditional caution for the offence of causing criminal damage to property valued under £5,000.

Under the conditions of the caution, they had to complete a questionnaire from a history commission set up by Bristol City Council.

They had to pay a fine of £100, which would be sent to Bristol-based charity Nilaari, and take part in two hours of environmental improvement works arranged by Bristol City Council.

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