Current track



Current show

Non-Stop HMR!

06:00 19:00

Arrests as four charged with toppling Colston statue plead not guilty

Written by on 25/01/2021

Supporters of four people appearing before Bristol magistrates charged with criminal damage in relation to the toppling of a statue of slave trader Edward Colston have been arrested for breaking lockdown rules.

Ahead of the hearing, Avon and Somerset Police had warned that anyone planning to attend to protest against the case would be breaking the law.

Four people, two men aged 43 and 68 and two women aged 59 and 60, were arrested, with formal warnings given to four others who left the area.

Police outside Bristol Magistrates' Court, where Rhian Graham, Milo Ponsford, Jake Skuse and Sage Willoughby are due to appear charged with criminal damage over the toppling of the Edward Colston statue in Bristol during the Black Lives Matter protests in June last year. Picture date: Monday January 25, 2021.
Image: Four arrests were made outside Bristol Magistrates Court

More than 150 people took part in an online event to protest against the charges.

Inside the court, the defendants – Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 36, and Sage Willoughby, 21 – all elected to have their case heard at a crown court.

The bronze memorial to the 17th century slave merchant was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest on 7 June last year, before being dumped in Bristol Harbour and later recovered by Bristol City Council.

Charges allege that the four defendants, together with “others unknown”, damaged the statue and plinth of a value unknown without lawful excuse.

More from Bristol

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge against each of them and elected for the case to be sent to Bristol Crown Court rather than remain at the magistrates court.

The statue of Edward Colston being pulled down. Pic: Jack Grey
Image: It was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest. Pic: Jack Grey

Following the court hearing, Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors, which represents three of the four defendants, issued a statement.

Raj Chada, head of criminal defence at the firm, and Laura O’Brien, associate, said: “We will fight these criminal charges vigorously on behalf of our clients.

“We are committed to defending them and their right to a fair trial in this important case.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

Tagged as