Edward Colston: Four deny damage to Bristol statue

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image copyrightPA Media
image captionThe statue was thrown into Bristol Harbour after being pulled down and rolled through the city's streets in June

Four people have denied causing criminal damage to a statue of slave trader Edward Colston and will face trial in December.

The bronze figure of the slave merchant was pulled down during a Black Lives Matter protest and thrown into Bristol Harbour on 7 June.

Jake Skuse, 36, Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, and Sage Willoughby, 21, appeared at Bristol Crown Court.

They were bailed and a trial is due to start on 13 December.

Mr Skuse, of Farley Close, Bristol; Ms Graham, of Colston Road, Bristol; Mr Ponsford, of Bishopstoke, Hampshire; and Mr Willoughby, of Gloucester Road, Bristol, were charged with causing criminal damage in December.

A hearing will take place on 8 November for administrative purposes.

image copyrightPA Media
image captionFrom left to right: Mr Skuse, Ms Graham, Mr Ponsford and Mr Willoughby's trial is set to start on 13 December

After being pulled down during the June rally, the statue was dumped in Bristol Harbour and recovered by Bristol City Council on 11 June.

The council said the statue, worth £3,750, would be preserved and placed in a museum, along with placards from Black Lives Matter protests.

Colston made his fortune in the slave trade and bequeathed his money to charities in Bristol, which led to many venues, streets and landmarks bearing his name.

The Colston Hall music venue was formally renamed the Bristol Beacon in September.

image copyrightDave Betts
image captionSome venues bearing Colston's name have been changed

Ahead of the hearing, London-based law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, which is representing three of the four defendants, said it would fight the charges "vigorously".

"We are committed to defending them and their right to a fair trial in this important case. We ask that their privacy is respected," a statement said.

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