Blackpool: From the courts 28-06-18

Here is the latest round-up of some of the cases at Blackpool Magistrates Court.

Wednesday, 27th June 2018, 4:33 pm
Updated Friday, 29th June 2018, 8:11 pm
Blackpool Magistrates Court

David Eaton, 44; Mark French, 27 Jennifer Harper, 52, and Joel Instone , 28, obstructing the highway

A bizarre battle of the blankets was revealed during the trial of four anti-fracking protesters.

The four were involved in a “lock-on” outside the Cuadrilla shale gas exploration site at Little Plumpton in January this year.

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Blackpool Magistrates Court

Video footage of the demonstration which saw two sets of people locked together across the main entrance to the site.

At one stage, fellow anti-frackers arrived with blankets to keep the four warm.

They kept throwing the blankets over a police cordon and police officers kept throwing them back.

The blanket throwing lasted five minutes and later police allowed the foursome to be covered on welfare grounds.

David Eaton, 44, of Dugdale Close,Blackpool; Mark French, 27, of Maple Farm Preston New Road; Jennifer Harper, 52, also of Maple Farm and Joel Instone , 28, also of Maple Farm all denied wilfully obstructing the highway.

Neil White, prosecuting, told District Judge Jeff Brailsford that the Crown relied on video and police body cam footage to prove the case.

He said the protest lasted two hours before they four were cut out of the tubes they were locked in.

Nikki Hall defending, said the protest would not have blocked traffic going into and out of the site.

She said there was no need for police to establish a contraflow.

Giving evidence Instone said he had come across dangers involving fracking during a stay in Australia.

He said: “Having a lock on is the most effective form of protest.

Jennifer Harper told the judge that her interest in fracking had started when relatives expressed fears about their homes losing value and problems with insurance.

“I then started to investigate other problems she believed stem from fracking such as health issues.”

“Me joining the lock on that day was a spur of the moment choice.”

All four were found guilty and were given 12 month conditional discharges and were ordered to pay £170 costs.

The judged told them: “These defendants protested by blocking the entrance to the site locked together by tubes from which, I well know,they could have self released at any time. Their aim to prevent access and stop deliveries anything else was collateral damage.”

Meanwhile, fellow protester John Knox was barred from attending the hearing after the judge ruled the 31 year old's shorts were inappropriate court dress.

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Wednesday's round-up of cases at Blackpool Magistrates Court 27/06/18

Anthony Lees, 31, drink-driving

A rail worker was more than three times over the alcohol limit when police saw his Jaguar swerving around the road at Preesall.

Anthony Lees had been drinking when visiting his mother’s caravan then decided to drive home in the early hours.

Lees, aged 31, of York Street, Church, Accrington, pleaded guilty to driving with excess alcohol.

He was sentenced to do 100 hours unpaid work for the community, banned from the road for 28 months and ordered to pay £85 costs with £85 victims’ surcharge.

Presiding magistrate, Graham Curry, told him: “This is a very high reading.”

Prosecutor, Pam Smith, said on June 3 police saw Lees driving on Park Lane, Preesall.

He was swerving around the road going over the centre line and almost hit the kerb.

A breath test showed 119 microgrammes of alcohol in his body - 35 is the limit.

In a report to the court, probation officer Eleanor Caldwell, told magistrates that Lees had gone to his mother’s caravan in St Michaels and had intended staying there overnight, but about 1.30am he decided to drive home as he felt okay to drive.

Lees was due to fly off on holiday the day of the offence. He only drank alcohol when he had a few days off work as he was regularly tested for alcohol in his employment.

Dean Plevin, 34, possessing a blade in public

A man was seen brandishing a kitchen knife in Marton.

Dean Plevin, 34, of Station Road, South Shore, pleaded guilty to possessing a blade in Newhouse Road.

Prosecutor, Pam Smith, said members of public saw Plevin brandishing a knife on June 29 last year, and she asked for the case be sent to crown court for sentence.

Plevin was bailed to appear at Preston Crown Court for sentence on July 25.