Wimbledon | Protestors found guilty of aggravated trespass

The three Just Stop Oil protesters who disrupted play at The Championships last summer, were found guilty of aggravated trespass by the City of London Magistrates’ Court on Monday.

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. City of London Magistrates’ Court Judge

On 5 July, 2023 at around 2.10pm, Deborah Wilde, 69, Simon Milner-Edwards, 67 and William Ward, 66, scaled a barrier and threw confetti and puzzle pieces onto Court 18 interrupting the match between Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov and Japan’s Sho Shimabukuro  

They have denied that the protest amounted to aggravated trespass.

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), said Wilde and Milner-Edwards threw ‘around 1,000’ puzzle pieces from a jigsaw that had been purchased at the Wimbledon Museum, as well as confetti.

She said when she arrived, the scene looked ‘very unsettling’ and the players appeared ‘very frustrated, probably quite intimidated’, adding: “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, Dite continued.

A Just Stop Oil demonstrator throws orange confetti on Court 18, disrupting play

© Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images

The pair was arrested at 2.16pm, and, around 2 hours later, Ward, who was also captured on bodycam footage wearing a Just Stop Oil t-shirt, went onto the same court when British No 1 Katie Boulter had started her match against Australia’s Daria Saville.

Boulter helped Wimbledon staff clear up the mess after play was suspended, the court heard.

Miss Dite claimed Ward’s protest was met with louder ‘boos’ from the crowd, many of whom also had witnessed the first incident.

Court 18 is a show court, where many top seeds play in front of ‘a few hundred’ people and there is extensive video coverage of the incident, Miss Dite stated.

The AELTC had spent ‘hundreds of thousands of pounds’ to manage potential protests after Just Stop Oil demonstrated at the World Snooker Championships and the Ashes Test at Lord’s Cricket Ground, Dite said.

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 3 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 trio had accepted they had climbed over a barrier and threw the items over the court, but denied that the protest amounted to aggravated trespass.

Wilde, a retired teacher, and Ward, a retired civil engineer, were each given a six-month conditional discharge, meaning they will not be punished further unless they commit a further offence during their probation period.

Milner-Edwards, a retired musician, was handed an 18-month conditional discharge.

Daria Saville (rear L) and Katie Boulter (front C) helped ball boys and girls to pick up orange confetti thrown on Court 18 by a Just Stop Oil demonstrator disrupting their match on the 3rd day of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships

© Glyn Kirk/AFP via Getty Images



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