Just Stop Oil protester avoids jail after moaning that he had ‘ruined his life’ and damaged his relationship with his partner by climbing gantry to bring M25 to a standstill
- Alfred Beswick, 26, scaled an M25 motorway gantry on November 8 using ropes
- He admitted causing a public nuisance and had been remanded in custody
- But the eco-zealot moaned to a court how his climate protest had ‘ruined his life’
- He avoided jail and was given a six-month sentence, suspended for 18 months
A Just Stop Oil activist who moaned to a judge that climbing a gantry over the M25 had ‘completely ruined his life’ has today been spared jail.
The eco zealot clambered onto the gantry above junction 22 in St Albans, Hertfordshire at 7.15am, wearing an orange hi-vis jacket and hard hat, before being arrested by police.
But despite causing carnage on the M25, Beswick – who had written to the court saying the stunt had wrecked his life and ‘really disrupted his relationship with his partner’ – avoided jail, with a judge instead handing him a suspended sentence.
Alfred Beswick was among the Just Stop Oil zealots to clamber onto gantries above the M25 in a coordinated series of protests closed Britain’s busiest motorways. Pictured is one of the protesters on an M25 gantry in November
Beswick, 26, of Hackney, east London, was given a suspended sentence having moaned to the court that his part in the Just Stop Oil protests had ‘ruined his life’. He is pictured at a rally
‘Mr Beswick you know what it’s like to be in a prison cell, I’m not going to send you back to prison today,’ Judge Alexander Milne KC told the defendant, who had previously spent a month remanded in custody.
During the hearing at the Old Bailey, the court heard how Beswick had scaled the structure above the motorway as part of a coordinated series of protests by Just Stop Oil that caused ‘widespread disruption’.
Describing Beswick’s role in the chaos, prosecutor Jennie Oborne said: ‘He climbed a gantry, secured himself to the top of the gantry and unpacked a “stop the oil” banner.
‘The M25 had to be shut on the eastbound carriage way for a number of hours until 10.10am.
‘The reality is, that your honour will appreciate, the disruption was widespread and caused maybe thousands of people who were using the motorway that day disruption.’
Tens of thousands of people were disrupted by the protests, which took place at the beginning of November, 2022. Pictured are police stopping traffic on the M25 on November 8
Beswick made no comment in police interview but admitted causing a public nuisance at Southwark Crown Court last month.
‘Mr Beswick, whilst no means an organiser knew he was involving himself in a wider enterprise that would cause significant disruption to the public,’ said Ms Oborne.
Nicholas Goss, defending, said Beswick ‘had a difficult time whilst in custody but had the benefit of being able to reflect upon his actions and views and step aside from the co-accused and plead guilty in a very early stage’.
‘Mr Beswick cares deeply about anything he chooses to do and he cares deeply for his concerns of the future,’ added Mr Goss.
‘He has shown himself both before, during and after his guilty plea, that this is a man who is in apposition to be rehabilitated for his conduct.’
Passing sentence Judge Milne described the eco warrior’s actions as a ‘deliberate disruption’, adding that Beswick ‘persisted’ to scale the gantry despite seeing police approaching.
‘He would’ve known and been well aware his actions were not taken in isolation but part of a widespread package of disruption to effect tens if not thousands of people,’ Judge Milne said.
‘He is still a relatively young man and I recognise for him he has had the opportunity to reflect upon the effects of his actions, not only upon himself but his family and for those he cares for.
Another Just Stop Oil protester on a M25 gantry on November 10 as part of a weeks-long campaign to place pressure on the Government over fossil fuels
As well as causing chaos on the M25, protesters also caused mayhem in London, with eco zealots marching slowly through the city’s roads, sparking delays across the capital. Pictured are Just Stop Oil supporters in Whitechapel Road
Last year’s protests left drivers furious, with some choosing the express their frustration to the climate change campaigners
‘I suspect it took a degree of courage on his part to step aside from those who had encouraged him to get involved in these actions and plead guilty for the actions he had done.
‘It seems to me that whilst it would be a custodial sentence, it does not need to be immediate but there are good grounds that rehabilitation is realistic in these circumstances.’
Beswick, who appeared in court wearing a grey suit and red shirt, was sentenced to six months jail suspended for 18 months having admitted causing a public nuisance.
He is also required to complete 10 days of rehabilitation activity, 100 hours of unpaid work in the community and pay £600 in contribution fees within 12 months.
Judge Milne told him: ‘I’m trusting the court will not see you back here again.’