Pair go on trial over Just Stop Oil protest that closed Dartford Crossing bridge
Two Just Stop Oil protesters caused “gridlock for miles around” when they scaled a bridge on the Dartford Crossing and police closed the bridge to traffic, a trial has heard.
Morgan Trowland, 40, and 34-year-old Marcus Decker used ropes and other climbing equipment to shuffle up the cables of the bridge, prosecutor Adam King told Basildon Crown Court.
He said they ascended to a point close to 200ft above the road, close to the top of the towers, and unfurled a “giant Just Stop Oil banner” and “rigged up hammocks and stayed there”.
The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which links the M25 in Essex and Kent, was closed from 4am on October 17 last year to 9pm the following day, the prosecutor said.
“This closure caused gridlock for miles around throughout that period, which we say was the point,” said Mr King.
“It was because of the disruption that the incident made national news.
“Morgan Trowland, while up there, arranged interviews with the press and posted on social media from a Just Stop Oil account.
“One post was a video of him setting out the group’s demand that the Government immediately stop issuing oil licences,” he said.
He continued: “Small businesses lost, in some cases, hundreds of thousands of pounds, people missed loved one’s funerals, children were left on the side of the road waiting for buses.”
Trowland, of Islington, north London, and Decker, 34, of no fixed address, deny causing a public nuisance.
Mr King said there may be evidence about climate change and what the defendants “sought to achieve”, but he told jurors: “We’re not here to litigate the Government’s climate change policy.”
He said the pair came down at around 5.30pm on October 18 “with the help of police and a very tall cherry picker crane”, but the bridge was not reopened to traffic until later.
Mr King said the pair had “walked past the ‘no pedestrian access’ signs” before they started scaling the cables.
In police body-worn camera footage played to jurors, the protesters confirmed to attending police that they were there to protest and not for a suicide attempt.
Explaining what the video showed, Mr King said: “You can see they’re making fairly slow progress as they shuffle up astride the cable.”
He said that by 10.48am some rope ended up somewhere between the towers, but that there was no footage of it falling.
Jurors were also shown drone footage of the two men, up towers on opposite sides of the bridge, with their hammocks out and banner displayed.
“They obviously managed to throw a rope between them to rig this up,” said Mr King.
As a cherry picker extended upwards to fetch him down, Decker was recorded on footage singing “we’ll be the change that the world needs to see”.
Mr King said that the defendants did not deny that they climbed the bridge.
“There may be some querying on their part whether there was a need to close the bridge,” said Mr King.
“And there may be some querying about the level of disruption.”
The trial continues.
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