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Colston Four Protestors Found Not Guilty

Colston Four protestors acquitted of criminal damage charges for toppling Bristol slaver statue

Four protestors who toppled the statue of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston during a Black Lives Matter protest in Bristol on 7 June 2020, known as the ‘Colston Four’, have been acquitted at Bristol Crown Court of charges of criminal damage to the statue.

On 7 June 2020, the protestors pulled down the statue of Colston and dumped it into Bristol harbour. It was pushed into the water near Pero’s Bridge – named in honour of an enslaved man.

Raj Chada and Laura O’Brien of Hodge Jones & Allen represented two of the four protestors, Jake Skuse (33) and Rhian Graham (30) who pleaded not guilty at the trial in Bristol Crown Court, which began on 13 December 2021. Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh of Matrix Chambers was instructed on behalf of Ms Graham.

Commenting on the verdict, Raj Chada, Head of Criminal Defence at Hodge Jones & Allen said: “The truth is that the defendants should never have been prosecuted. It is shameful that Bristol City Council did not take down the statue of slaver Edward Colston that had caused such offence to people in Bristol and equally shameful that they then supported the prosecution of these defendants”

Laura O’Brien, Senior Associate firm added: “Our clients acknowledge that this case is but a small part of the struggle against racism and the efforts to tell the story of slavery and its legacy with honesty. Our clients thank all those who have helped along the way, for many of them telling us their stories of pain and determination.”

Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, Barrister in the case, stated: “This case demonstrates the fundamental importance of trial by jury. That is because juries represent the collective sense of justice.

R v Milo Ponsford, Sage Willoughby, Rhian Graham & Jake Skuse – Legal Directions – Judge’s Handout

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