Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

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Violent Eviction Arsonists Jailed

Arsonists who attacked No-M11 protesters are jailed

Squall 8, Autumn 1994, pg. 10

Two men have been jailed for their part in an arson attack on M11 protesters living in the chestnut tree on George’s Green, Wanstead, on 2nd December last year. Martin Courtney and John Roe were part of a nine-man gang recruited at a club in Southend, Essex, for up to £100 each, to intimidate and remove protesters. As reported in Squall 6, the men crept up on protesters, poured petrol around the base of the tree and a nearby bender before setting fire to it. Courtney and Roe were sentenced to two and half and three and half years respectively. Seven of the 9 man gang escaped. Those who put up the money have not been identified.

Passing sentence at the Old Bailey on September 5th, Judge Kenneth Richardson said: “The reason why no sentence other than prison can be justified lies in the fact that both of you were part of a gang hired to scare away persons involved in lawful protest and scare them away with methods involving violence.” He added: “the only regret is those responsible for hiring you are not before the court.”

The identity of those ultimately responsible remains a mystery. Protesters, police and even the owner of the club where the arsonists were hired, have their theories but no-one, it seems, has enough hard evidence to press charges or open an enquiry. Consequently, the paymaster may never be publicly outed.

One protester, who told SQUALL that a number of vehicles' windscreens were smashed shortly before the attack on the tree, said: “We get done for tiny little things - damaging a piece of string and moving a fence post while major assaults get ignored.

“There should be a major enquiry. The little fish are taking the rap. You can’t get justice in this country.”

The M11 protesters are continuing to gather evidence in the hope of opening a public inquiry.

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ROAD-HOUSE BLUES - The largest Road and Housing protest in Europe erupts in Wanstonia, NE London, to fight the M11 Link Rd - Squall 6, Spring 1994
For a menu of many other Squall articles about the Anti-Roads Movement, including protest camps, Reclaim The Streets and more click here