John Wyborn walks from court yesterday after being held overnight on Monday in police custody for his part in the Glenugie protests. Photo Eden Monique-Hull
The attention of Glenugie coal-seam-gas-free protesters moved briefly yesterday from Metgasco’s testing site to Grafton Local Court, where six men who had been held by police overnight faced Magistrate David Heilpern.
Five of the six were released on bail after being warned to ‘take a back seat’ in future protests, at least until their cases are heard together with the other 12 arrested, on February 11.
The sixth man, 69-year-old Alan Roberts of Bentley, received an adjournment while he seeks legal advice.
The men had been held overnight in police cells for refusing to abide by police conditions not to return to the Glenugie protest site.
Two of the six were prominent CSG campaigner Ian Gaillard, 61, who was acting as police liaison on the day, and well-known Nimbin activist Bennie Zable, 68.
Mr Gaillard was arrested for tossing a water bottle against police instructions to Mr Zable, who was standing on an aerial platform in protest in the swelteringly hot day.
Mr Gaillard told Echonetdaily this morning, ‘Benny was standing on the platform and I’d asked him if he was thirsty. He said “yes”. I went and filled up a water bottle. I came back inside the police zone and I was intercepted as I went to give it to him. I went and saw the head of the riot police, who said “no”. They gave me back the water bottle, which I threw up to Benny. Then they arrested me.
‘They had my wrists bent up in a wrist lock behind my back.
‘I was taken to a bus, photographed with a Polaroid camera and they took me to the Grafton police station in a paddy wagon.’
Mr Gaillard said that conditions in the police cells weren’t exactly comfortable.
‘The Grafton police outsource their food to McDonald’s so we had to eat McDonald’s and drink Coke if we wanted something to eat.
‘The holding cell was a bare skinny room with two mattresses and a few blankets for three people.’
But he added the local police were considerably more sympathetic.
‘The local police were very good. They expressed to me that they did not think it was a good idea that this coal-seam gas mining went ahead. And a number of them wished me good luck.
‘We went to court because the bail condition we were asked to sign was that we not return within 3km of the site before February 11.
‘The magistrate asked why I rejected the bail conditions, then I said, “I feel my obligation under any sensible and international law is to object to the operation going down there which has the potential to harm a great many people, biodiversity and wildlife”.’
Mr Gaillard has not been to Glenugie since his arrest but understands the atmosphere there is ‘one of shock at the degree of force used by the NSW government to assist a corporate entity to go ahead with an unsafe mining practice. People have a great resolve to continue right throughout the drilling program. They will not be able to keep the riot squad there 364 days a year.’
The other three men held overnight were: John Wyborn, 43, of South Grafton (pictured); Rodney Sharp, 49, of Lismore; and Ingo Medek, 40, of Nimbin.