Students ‘vandalised their university in fossil fuel protest’ Court heard

A group of students spray-painted their university walls causing thousands of pounds worth of damage in a protest over fossil fuels, a court heard.

David Durant, 24, Sil Liskens, 20, Sophie Moniz, 20, and Julian Hallam, 51, all face charges of criminal damage over the protest at King’s College in London on February 1 last year.

Hallam also faces another charge of criminal damage on February 19 during another protest at the same college on The Strand, central London.

The total value of the damage caused was said to be £8,754, the court heard.

But the defence claim the cost was much lower because chalk-based paint was used.

Liskens, who gave his nationality as Dutch to the court, admitted one count of criminal damage.

Durant and Moniz pleaded not guilty and Hallam did not appear in the dock as the court heard he was on hunger strike.

He and ten others have been chained outside the Labour Party HQ for the last 16 days over the party’s stance in Heathrow expansion.

A warrant was issued for Hallam’s arrest.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard there were more than 100 students taking part in the demonstration.

Charles Shelton prosecuting said: “Security at Kings College became aware a group of students protesting in the university reception hall.

“Around 100 student protestors were also at a previous event, demonstrating against fossil fuels and calling for a migration to a clean form of energy.

“Footage posted online led to identification asa a result.

“We say the incident is somewhere around £8,000.

“It goes without saying this is a Grade 1 listed building. Whilst there is a tradition of healthy protest in this country this must be within the boundaries of the law.

“The damages are reasonably large, the offences are reasonable serious.

“There’s substantial public interest. There’s an element of planning here.

“Mr Hallam is not here as he is on hunger strike.”

Mr Shelton added the group were not “serial protestors”.

The court heard there would be CCTV and video footage of the protest played during the two trials.

Ella Jefferson defending Durant and Liskens said: “The was motivated by a genuine protest.

“They carried out significant research before to make sure the paint could be easily removed with water.

“They used a chalk based paint so it could be removed and took buckets of water to the protest.

“A similar protest at the LSE (London School of Economics) was removed with water with minimal damage to the walls.”

District Judge Dervinder Kaur Sandhu released all the defendants in unconditional bail.

Liskins will be sentenced on Thursday (June 28) after the final figure for the damage is checked by the prosecution.

Moniz, who gave her nationality as British but who lives in Bermuda, will face a one-day trial at City of London Magistrates’ Court on July 18.

Durant elected to have a trial at crown court.

He will next appear at Southwark Crown Court on July 23.


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