By Pete Gavan
According to the court, it cost over PS3,000 for paint removal.
The Daily Telegraph’s offices were sprayed with green paint by two climate activists who were caught “green-handed”. Matthew Hempstock and Benedict Mango were both 49 years old when they did it on March 22, 2009.
At their trial before City of London Magistrates’ Court, other activists tried to repair some of the damages caused by the substance to the sidewalk and window ledge using bottles of water.
Hearing was informed that the paint had to be removed three times and cost over PS3, 000. The building, in Victoria, London, is no longer in the same condition as before the protest.
Jonathan Bryan, the prosecutor said that the two defendants used extinguishers and spray paint to cover the windows and doors of the Daily Telegraph. The paint also got into the stonework.
When they did what was observed, the police were contacted. When the police arrived, they discovered Mr Hempstock (left) and Mr Mango (right) outside of the building holding fire extinguishers. Their hands were covered in green paint. They were green-handed. “They were taken into custody by police to the station.”
Elizabeth Onaji who is a manager of the front desk at a hotel, testified that emergency cleaners arrived that same day to hose down all the windows. Two weeks later, the arches above the ground were also cleaned, but not the stonework.
The court heard that “very faint” marks remained on the building. The witness also said that it will cost at least PS2,000 in order to replace the anti-graffiti layer which washed away during the protest.
The trial revealed that most people had to exit the building through a rear door in the early hours following the protest. The court heard her say: “There were other women, but they did not look like they sprayed paint. They were in the group. I recall that they carried trolleys from the store and had two-litre water bottles.”
I saw them pour it onto the floor in an effort to remove some of the paint from the sidewalk. Then they asked if we have a broom to help us scrub it off. She said, “Okay, it’d be easier if you had a brush, do we have one?” I did not say anything. It is not our responsibility to do this.
The witness said that the cleaning process was ineffective, to be honest. Both defendants admitted to damaging the stonework.
Hempstock (49), said that in his testimony he wanted “to amplify” the “message” about the newspaper’s “culpability of spreading misinformation regarding the climate crisis”. Mango (56), told the court that they had “researched” the site and made sure to use washable paint.
Later, he appeared to be emotional when he said that he participated in the protest “because climate change impacts us all” and accused of the newspaper “publishing articles which undermine science”.
The District Judge Steven Jonas said that they “made very substantial efforts” to minimize the damage, but were “reckless” in determining whether or not the paint could cause greater harm than intended.
Both admitted to spraying paint, but each denied that they had caused criminal damage on property worth less than PS5,000. They claimed their actions were legal.
According to the judge, “the cost was neither trivial nor minor.” The judge said: “I’ve considered each case against you individually and find you each guilty of the accusations you face.” Both were given conditional discharges and had to pay compensation of PS275, costs of PS465 plus a victim surcharge of PS26 each.
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