Protesters cop massive fines

[PN: Insanely out-of-proportion fines handed out at the Leard Forest. A week before people up for the same charges were getting fines a fraction of as much from a different magistrate. Is this justice? Is it even lawful?]

A DOZEN activists have been slapped with more than $35,000 in fines after a scathing rebuke of mining protests near Narrabri.

Magistrate Lisa Stapleton issued tens of thousands of dollars in fines, as well as convictions, yesterday for the illegal protests last year near Maules Creek which she labelled as dangerous, and even life threatening.

In the extra sittings in Narrabri Local Court this week, Magistrate Stapleton expressed her disapproval of the behaviour, finding 11 offenders guilty and convicting them of the same charges of obstructing or hindering an authorisation holder.

Joshua Brown was issued a $7750 fine after he blocked a road near the open-cut coal mine for almost eight hours on November 3 during a tree sit.

While Indooroopilly’s Ken Aberdeen was handed a $6000 fine after he locked onto a water pump station on April 8 last year.

Magistrate Stapleton handed a Victorian couple $6000 in fines after a protest on April 9, 2014.

At a hearing yesterday morning, David and Pamela Rothfield were found guilty after they locked onto a drilling rig near Boggabri.

Hamilton’s Emily Currey will also have to pay compensation after an order for $1271 was granted yesterday. The 23-year-old was suspended in a tripod during a protest on August 5 and was issued a $2200 fine for the offence.

A special sitting of the Narrabri Local Court was scheduled by the NSW Local Court Chief Magistrate after a blowout in court lists.
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Several protesters charged with criminal offences have pleaded not guilty, leaving a backlog of hearings, with some scheduled as far away as October.

The charge of obstructing or hindering an authorisation holder is an offence under the Mining Act of 1992.

Yesterday, Christina Hodds of Bronte was fined $2500 and convicted after she locked onto mining equipment on April 24.

A trio of men was fined for their part in a large protest on May 6, 2014 near Boggabri.

Andrew Lenart, Dallas De Brabander and Miguel Heatwole will have to pay $2000 each after they locked onto gates blocking Haul Rd last year.

The court heard the majority of the offenders live outside the area or interstate.

Meanwhile, Enmore’s Bronwyn Vost was convicted under the Crimes Act of resisting police and remaining on inclosed lands.

She was handed $600 in fines for the September 29 protest when she locked on in a tepee at the gates of the mine.

Several other matters were adjourned.
By Breanna Chillingworth
April 1, 2015, 4 a.m.

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