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Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Peace protest trial - final verdict
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¬†The trial of Susan van der Hijden, 32, from Amsterdam, and Fr Martin Newell, 33, from Canning Town in London, ended at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday. The Trident Ploughshares campaigners were found guilty of trespass and of causing £31,000 of criminal damage to a nuclear convoy truck last November. Although they were sentenced to twelve months in prison, they were freed because they have already served more than half their sentences on remand. In passing sentence Justice Darroch advised Ms van der Hijden and Fr Martin that they were technically on parole and could be brought back to complete their sentences if they re-offended during the next six months. He also warned them that they would be facing a more severe sentence if they committed such an offence again. Outside the court Ms van der Hijden said: "Nothing that had been said in court has changed my mind. I am happy to be out and I am happy that we managed to convince two of the jurors. My immediate plans are to give talks and workshops but I would do what we did again." According to a press statement, when asked whether he would be willing to break the law again to challenge Trident, Fr Martin said that the only lawbreaking in this case was what the UK state was doing in threatening Trident. He said he felt he had to take responsibility for what his country was doing, providing for his defence, at the expense of people's lives worldwide. He thanked his family for their support over the last six months. The Rt Rev Thomas McMahon, Bishop of Brentwood, said: "While I have been a long supporter of the cause for the abolition of nuclear weapons, I cannot condone the action taken by Fr Martin Newell and Susan van der Hijden. We live in a democratic society and have so many ways and means of freely making our views known."
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