Judges quash demonstrators’ Asbos

BBC News Wednesday 20th September 2006

Ten demonstrators given Asbos after peaceful protests against an arms fair have won their appeal against sentence.

The group admitted in May a charge of obstructing an engine or carriage using a railway at a London station in 2005.

Quashing the orders at the Court of Appeal on Wednesday (02 09 06), Lord Justice Moses said they were not justified.

He said all but three of the protesters were of good character and every one of them had given considerable public voluntary service to the community.

The indefinite order prohibited the demonstrators from interfering with the operation of any train on the Docklands Light Railway, Underground or Silverlink networks.

Lord Justice Moses said the judge at Snaresbrook Crown Court, Judge Pardoe QC, was not entitled to conclude their criminal behaviour – involving climbing or trying to climb on to the roofs of stationary trains at Canning Town or by chaining doors – was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.

“We wish to draw a distinction between activity of a manner likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress and that which causes frustration,” he said.

That was not what the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which provides for anti-social behaviour orders, was aimed at, he said.

“It is aimed at actions likely to cause fear for one’s own safety and thus, merely being frustrated at the delay on a train, does not come within that meaning,” he said.

The judge had also erred in holding an Asbo was necessary.

“The purpose of such an order is not to punish the offender but to protect persons from further anti-social acts by them,” Lord Justice Moses said.

“There was no evidence before the court by which it could be satisfied that anti-social acts were likely to perpetrated by any of these applicants, save those who had already committed similar acts.”

The appeal judges also allowed, to varying extents, appeals against additional sentences imposed on the 10.

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