Victoria W. | 08.05.2009 00:49 | SOCPA
My charge reads as follows:
**Statement Of Offence**
Conspiracy to interfere with contractual relationship so as to harm an animal research oganisation, Contrary to section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977
**Particulars Of Offence**
Victoria W between the 13th day of April 2008 and the 13th day of October 2008 conspired with (insert co-defendants) with intent to harm a animal research organisation, namely Huntingdon Life Sciences, did a relevant act namely trespass in circumstances in which that act was intended or likely to cause a second person to terminate a contract they had with a third person namely Huntingdon Life Sciences.
So I'm the only one to have gone through with trial and that's mostly because I was/am too stubborn to listen to anyone. From the moment we were arrested, I had never expected the case to be taken this far. I have always thought the prosecutions case could be fought as they lacked any substantial evidence but it did concern me that there was a significant gray area to allow the jury to speculate and to come to any possible conclusions as to why we were there that night.
It had only been in the last couple of days that the prosecution actually decided to approach this case from another angle(yet again) and I guess that's because I was the only one left.According to them I was now the organizer behind this thing (supplying information between individuals and "showing all the confidence of a conspirator" even though I have never been cautioned or arrested before) and it was our purpose to intentionally trigger silent alarms,making ourselves known, in order to scare/intimidate the farmer into terminating any contracts he may have had (at one point this argument was being used on top of us planning to carry out a recce at a future date...makes sense?)
Everyday of the trial has involved further admissions of evidence and this includes: hundreds of leaflets, placards, footage/images of lawful protests we've been on(under only a 6 week period of association together and particular reference to the legal campaign group, SHAC), reconfirming our admittance of trespass more than once via soil analysis etc, cctv footage from the farm of us on the night in question for a matter of seconds, head torches, phone records, collection tin etc. I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to whether this amounts to damning evidence against us or not but most importantly, we had the written and verbal evidence from the farmer himself; who explicitly stated that no damage or loss was suffered at all and that it did not even occur to him that any contract would have been interfered with (much to the prosecutors disappointment)
Which leads me onto today. I went in feeling unhappy this morning as I had just started being cross examined by the prosecution yesterday and she had yet to finish with me! However,yesterday, the judge had asked us to attend half an hour earlier before the jury arrived today, in order to give his reasons for why he thought there was a case to answer for, in response to my solicitors submission that there was not.
Today he said he carefully considered everything last night and to our shock, he had changed his mind; there was no case to answer for. He gave the opportunity for the prosecution to decide on what they wished be done and the judge said he would need a lot of persuading to think differently. They had the opportunity to appeal the ruling but have decided not to.
At 2pm today the jury were directed by the judge to return a Not Guilty verdict. I think the best part of today was to see the jury's approval. I was so worried about how they perceived AR activists but throughout the judge's explanation of this ruling, they nodded in agreement. One woman kept smiling at me and apparently they smiled to friends/family in the public gallery as they exited. So, although I've been found not guilty under these circumstances, it's good to know that the jury approved and hopefully have left with a different view of activists than the generally negative image reported in the media - not to mention they got to have a read of some of the leaflets : )
Well I hope that was of some interest. I probably haven't explained that brilliantly but I am still finding things pretty surreal! Over half a year of 7pm-7am curfews, no communication with co-defendants, no participation in protests for animal rights or anything else,banning from Lincolnshire, surrendering of passport, moving back to my old town,transferring my education, numerous journeys to court/legal meetings, detained for 3 days and imprisoned for a week...and now it's finally over! : P
So thank you to everyone that wrote to me in prison and who have given me advice etc throughout. I don't think I would have coped with this situation if that support wasn't there.
Love and thanks,
Vikki (Please continue to support the boys as they are still awaiting sentence-thank you)
P.S Application for an ASBO is likely. The judge is particularly keen on making it known that he does not approve of trespass and the result of this case does not mean he finds our act of trespass acceptable behaviour.