Climate change protesters who smashed Barclays bank HQ windows ‘could face jail’ after being convicted of criminal damage
Climate protesters who caused almost Â£100,000 in damage after smashing glass windows at the London headquarters of Barclays bank could face jail after being found guilty of causing criminal damage.
Carol Wood, 53, Nicola Stickells, 52, Sophie Cowen, 31, Lucy Porter, 48, Gabriella Ditton, 28, Rosemary Webster, 64, and Zoe Cohen, 52, were convicted at Southwark Crown Court on Monday over the incident on April 7 last year.
Besides Cowen, the six other women all have previous convictions for either criminal damage, wilful obstruction of a highway, breaching directions imposed on public assemblies or a combination of the three offences.
The seven women were found guilty by a jury on a majority of 11 to one after more than nine hours of deliberations.
Wood, the first to be found guilty, cried throughout the verdicts.
Prosecutor Diana Wilson said the women could receive sentences ranging from community orders to 18 months in prison.
Judge Milne KC said âall optionsâ have to be considered before adjourning the sentencing to January 27 next year at the same court.
More than 20 supporters in the public gallery gave the defendants a standing ovation after the hearing ended.
In April last year, the group spread out along the front of Barclays bank in Canary Wharf, east London, before using chisels and hammers to break the large glass panels that made up the exterior of the bank.
Their actions were associated with climate change campaign group Extinction Rebellion.
During the trial, they argued that Barclays staff would have consented to the damage if they were fully informed about the climate crisis.
The prosecutor insisted this was not true during her closing speech. She added they were âdoing it to impose their views and to force changeâ and because they âbelieve themselves to be above the lawâ.
Webster, a trained cook, described Barclays as the âcounty lines of bankingâ, and told jurors the company is the global banking industryâs seventh largest funder of fossil fuels, and the largest in Europe.
She alleged the bank is âputting profits before people and the planetâ and said she âcrackedâ the glass windows to âraise the alarmâ.
Both she and Cowen, the founder of a social enterprise company that helps people move their money to âclean banksâ, told the court their actions had emulated the suffragettes, who âcracked many, many windowsâ.
Porter, a former teacher, told jurors the bankâs windows were replaced but âecosystemsâ are irreplaceable and that disrupting bankers over the course of a morning is incomparable with watching a child die of starvation.
In her evidence, Ditton said Barclays is âfinancing the destruction of everything that we know and loveâ and that it was ânecessaryâ to break the bankâs windows to âsound an alarmâ.
The court heard Cohen became a Barclays shareholder in early 2021 to put forward a resolution asking the bank to phase out funding for fossil fuels which was later voted against.
Cohen said she âhonestlyâ believed that by April 2021 she had run out of other options to try to achieve change, and the repair costs - Â£97,022 - were insignificant to Barclays, which had spent Â£100 million on refurbishments last year.
Both Stickells and Wood told the court they were âshockedâ at how much the repairs cost.
Wood, of Swansea; Stickells, of Harleston; Cowen, of Shaftesbury; Porter, of Euston, central London; Ditton, of Norwich; Webster, of Dorchester; and Cohen, of Lymm, all denied but were convicted of criminal damage.