Climate protesters guilty of aggravated trespass at Wimbledon

Three Just Stop Oil protesters have been found guilty of storming the Wimbledon tennis courts with confetti and puzzle pieces.

Deborah Wilde, 69, Simon Milner-Edwards, 67, and William Ward, 66, were found guilty of aggravated trespass at City of London Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

The trio scaled a barrier and threw the items on the court during the third day of The Championships tournament in July.

All three admitted entering the court but denied it amounted to the charge of aggravated trespass.

After the verdict was delivered the judge said: “Firstly I want to thank all of the defendants for the way they’ve conducted themselves this evening, all of you will have been very stressed.

He said it was “not in dispute” that each defendant “sprinkled some confetti or tinsel and some jigsaw pieces on to that playing field” and said that he “found it a fact” that they were trespassing.

He accepted that the three protesters waited for a break in play, but added: “Nevertheless I find as a fact that each of them intended to cause disruption to the tennis and as a result they did cause some disruption on that day.”

The court was told Wilde and Milner-Edwards entered Court 18 at around 14:10 BST on 5 July last year, during the Grand Slam match between Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Japan’s Sho Shimabukuro.

Bodycam footage played to the court showed them wearing Just Stop Oil T-shirts.

Giving evidence in the trial, Michelle Dite, operations director at the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC), which runs the competition, said Wilde and Milner-Edwards threw “around 1,000” puzzle pieces from a jigsaw that had been purchased at the Wimbledon grounds, as well as confetti.

When she arrived, the scene looked “very unsettling” and the players appeared “very frustrated, probably quite intimidated”, she said.

She added: “There (was) glitter, flutter-fetti – orange – and jigsaw puzzle pieces that have been spread around different parts of the court; either side of the net.”

Wimbledon staff cleared the jigsaw pieces and confetti by hand and using leaf blowers, she added.

The pair were arrested at 14:16 BST.

Around two hours later, Ward, also captured on bodycam footage wearing a Just Stop Oil T-shirt, went onto the same court.

By that time, British player Katie Boulter had started competing against Australia’s Daria Saville.

Ms Dite claimed Ward’s protest was met with louder “boos” from the crowd, many of whom had already witnessed the first incident.

That year AELTC spent “hundreds of thousands of pounds” to manage potential protests after Just Stop Oil demonstrated at the World Snooker Championships and Ashes Test at Lord’s Cricket Ground, she said.

Court 18 is a show court, where many top seeds play in front of “a few hundred” people and there is extensive video coverage, Ms Dite added.

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