Extinction Rebellion protester who climbed up crane is made to pay compensation

Sam Russell, PA
·2-min read

A teenage climate protester who camped at the top of a 100ft crane for two nights has been ordered to pay £45 in compensation for cutting a chain to access the structure.

Cycle courier Alex Sidney, 18, climbed the crane in Norwich early on November 7 last year and descended on November 9.

At Norwich Magistrates’ Court on Monday, he admitted to the criminal damage of a chain belonging to Carter Construction which he cut using a disc cutter in order to access the crane on November 7.

Prosecutor Paul Roach said nobody from the company had come to court to be a witness and that no evidence was offered in respect of three further charges, which were then dismissed by the district judge.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Screen grab from footage issued by Extinction Rebellion of Alex Sidney scaling a crane on Duke Street (Handout/PA)

These were of aggravated trespass, obstructing a constable in the execution of their duty and displaying a sign with intention to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

Sidney, of Yaxham Road, Dereham, Norfolk, was ordered to pay £45 compensation for the damaged chain and £100 towards prosecution costs.

District judge Shanta Deonarine, handing the defendant an 18-month conditional discharge, told him: “You stay out of trouble and go back to being a person of good character, it gives you a chance to have this end at the end of the conditional discharge.”

Sidney had denied all charges at an earlier hearing before admitting the criminal damage charge on the day of his listed trial.

Extinction Rebellion protests
Alex Sidney climbed a crane in Norwich as part of a protest by Extinction Rebellion against climate inaction. (Extinction Rebellion/ PA)

Mr Roach said the defendant had entered the building site by climbing a fence then climbed a red crane, having used a disc cutter to cut a chain that was held in place by a padlock.

Sidney displayed a flag of support for Extinction Rebellion, Mr Roach said.

Hannah Webb, mitigating, said Sidney had prepared a statement explaining why he did what he did.

But the judge, noting that the defendant was convicted of a charge of criminal damage, said the courtroom was “not an arena or a forum in which to make statements which don’t assist me today”.

The statement was not read out.

Ms Webb said Sidney works as a cycle courier delivering food for Uber Eats, Just Eat and Deliveroo.

She said a curfew, in place as part of bail conditions ahead of the court case and monitored by an electronic tag, had a “significant impact” on his earnings.

The defendant told the judge he hoped to cycle around the UK on a gap year if Covid restrictions allow.