A climate activist who scaled Bega MP Andrew Constance's office on Tuesday, June 8, has been convicted and ordered to pay a number of fines.
Eric Serge Herbert, 21, was arrested and charged last week following the protest action that saw a police rescue operation and disruptions to main street traffic and businesses.
The protest action was organised in objection to the logging of Far South Coast forests and to raise concerns about climate change.
In Bega Local Court on Tuesday, June 15, Mr Herbert appeared via audio-visual link from South Coast Correctional Centre in Nowra after refusing to sign his bail release form last week due to "personal convictions".
He also stated in court that he had been on a seven-day hunger strike in the facility since his arrest.
The accused chose to represent himself in court and pleaded guilty to all five charges.
The charges included the use of intimidation/violence to unlawfully influence a person, enter enclosed land without lawful excuse, refuse/fail to comply with direction, risk safety of another by climbing onto a building/structure, and wilfully obstruct officer in execution of duty.
The court heard Mr Herbert's submission that he believed the charge of using intimidation/violence to unlawfully influence a person was "heavy handed" and that "intimidation is subjective".
He suggested that all employees of the office were able to enter and leave as they pleased and it was never the protesters' intention to prevent access to the establishment.
He also said it was a "chilled out affair" and that nothing about the body language or speech of any of the protestors was "aggressive".
The magistrate said that despite his long criminal record for similar charges, imprisonment for such actions would be a "last resort".
Mr Herbert was ordered to pay a list of fines which amounted to $2700:
- $800 for the use of intimidation/violence to unlawfully influence a person
- $200 for entering enclosed land without lawful excuse
- $100 for refuse/fail to comply with direction
- $800 risk safety of another by climbing onto a building/structure
- $800 wilfully obstruct officer in execution of duty.
Outside court Tuesday morning, a number of supporters from the civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion, who organised the protest last week, appeared with placards, banners, flowers and sang songs about "climate action and justice".
"First and foremost we are here to support the people in our group that made a massive sacrifice on Tuesday, they sacrificed their liberties, some of them have changed their professional capacity going forward into the future and that's a massive thing we don't take lightly," said ER media spokesperson Annabell Gottwald.
She echoed Mr Herbert's sentiment and said the group believed that some of the charges were too harsh considering their protest was "peaceful".
"They've got violence and intimidation and that has never been anyone's intent. We are first and foremost a peaceful movement, both in our actions and our words."
The group has also been crowdfunding to pay for the fines for protesters arrested last Tuesday.
As of 3pm Tuesday, June 15, the group had raised $3140 through an online fundraising campaign.
Three other men involved 28, 60, 63 - as well as a 53-year-old woman still remain before the courts.