Two Sheffield tree protesters get suspended prison sentences

image captionThe hearing on Thursday was packed with supporters of the four defendants

Two protesters have received suspended prison sentences for being in contempt of court by breaching an injunction over tree-felling in Sheffield.

Lecturer Simon Crump and magician Benoit Compin were given two-month sentences, suspended for one year.

A judge sitting at the High Court in Sheffield decided no further punishment was appropriate for a third defendant, Fran Grace, a retired teacher.

Judgement has been reserved in the case of a fourth protester, Paul Brooke.

Sheffield City Council had taken the four to court in a long-running dispute over the fate of trees in the city.

The judge, Mr Justice Males, told the court that protesters were in contempt because they had breached an injunction obtained by the council in July 2017 that prevented protesters entering safety zones set up around trees being felled.

It also forbade people encouraging or facilitating anyone else to break the injunction, including through social media.

The council was willing to have its citizens jailed over the Sheffield tree protests, the court heard on Tuesday.

The dispute surrounds a 25-year, £2.2bn contract between the council and Amey.

Amey is due to resurface all Sheffield's roads by 2020. In doing so, it is tasked with maintaining roadside trees.

The council says only street trees that are diseased, damaging or dangerous are being removed.

But protesters say many are felled because their roots are simply in the way of resurfacing methods.

image copyrightPixelwitch
image captionProtesters have attempted to stop trees being cut down

Campaigner Calvin Payne has already been given a suspended sentence and ordered to pay £16,000 costs for breaching the council's injunction.

There is currently a moratorium on tree-felling, and in March oCouncillor Bryan Lodge resigned as cabinet member for Environment and Street Scene over "abuse" he was receiving.

image copyrightPA
image captionThousands of trees have been cut down in Sheffield since 2012

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