Four Charged With Criminal Damage For Throwing Edward Colston Statue Into Bristol Harbour
Four people have been charged with criminal damage after throwing a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston into Bristol harbour.
The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed today, December 9, that Rhian Graham, 29, Milo Ponsford, 25, Jake Skuse, 32, and Sage Willoughby, 21, have been charged following the incident, which took place during a Black Lives Matter protest on June 7.
All four are set to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court on January 25 after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) reviewed a file containing evidence from Avon and Somerset Police.
A CPS spokesperson commented:
The Crown Prosecution Service reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against all four are now active and that they have the right to a fair trial.
It is extremely important there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.
Graham, Ponsford, Skuse and Willoughby were found to be responsible for dumping the bronze statue in the River Avon after pulling it down with ropes, in a move that prompted many other activists to commit similar acts in protests across the UK.
The Colston statue was later recovered by Bristol City Council, after which it was assessed to have suffered £3,750 worth of damage.
The charges come after a further six people accepted conditional cautions for criminal damage for their part in the incident, the BBC reports. The caution will go on a criminal record, but allows the six to avoid prosecution in the courts and any further punishment.
Conditions of the caution meant the six have to complete a questionnaire from the We Are Bristol History Commission, set up by Bristol City Council, in which they can set out their reasons for their actions as well as their ‘concerns and thoughts going forward’.
According to Bristol Live, the six people were also ordered to pay a fine of £100, which will be collected by HMCTS and sent to Nilaari, a Bristol-based Black and minority ethnic-led charity that provides specialist services for people with complex needs and other mental health challenges.
The plinth that previously held the statue of Colston has mostly remained empty since the statue was pulled down, though it has been briefly occupied by art installations on several occasions since the summer, including a sculpture of BLM protestor Jen Reid holding her fist in the air.
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