By Darren Coyne
Two Knitting Nannas and two other anti-CSG activists had charges relating to them locking-on at the Santos facility in the Pilliga forest in January dismissed in the Lismore Local Court this morning.
The four women had received notices for obstructing traffic and disobeying a police direction after locking on to the front gate as part of ongoing protest against unconventional gas mining.
Dominique Jacobs of Gloucester, and Angela Dalu and Therese Mason, both of Lismore, appeared together before magistrate David Heilpern, while Christina Charley of Byron Shire appeared a short time later.
All four women pleaded guilty, and their solicitor, Kira Levin of the Environmental Defenders Office NSW spoke of their good character, family commitments, and lack of previous convictions.
Magistrate David Heilpern said during sentencing that higher courts in NSW had set precedents by granting Section 10s (case proved but no conviction recorded) when a protest had been unlawful but there had been no damage to property.
As an aside he noted that he recently observed a group of nuns in Sydney practising non-violent tactics in preparation for providing sanctuary to refugees.
‘The times they are a changing when people who are are associated with the conservative sides of society are becoming more active,’ he said.
‘It is incumbent on me to say that the law will be treating people sympathetically when they come before the court for non-violent protest where the higher courts have set precedents.’
‘For all these reasons I am dismissing these charges under Section 10. I considered a good behaviour bond but the truth is you don’t get a Section 10 twice.
‘If they come back before the court again the chances of a Section 10 are nil.
‘I don’t see the need for a good behaviour bond because you all know the consequences if you re-offend.’
After being dismissed, media had to wait while the Nannas attending this morning’s court retrieved their knitting and crochet needles, which had been confiscated by security.
Nannas founder and spokesperson Clare Twomey told Echonetdaily that it was a great result for the Nannas and other activists.
‘I don’t think what happened will deter people, but the Baird government’s disgusting new laws where fines have gone up to $5,500, and this kind of offence has a jail sentence for up to seven years, … that would definitely deter a lot of people,’ she said.
‘A lot of people involved in this movement are in their 60s, and even in their 80s, and for people who have never been naughty before it’s very hard for them to cross that line between being law-abiding citizens and standing up for something they truly believe in.’