Jonny Bairstow saved Lords' Ashes Test by carrying off climate change protestor, court told
Environmental scientist Jacob Bourne, 27, along with grandmother Judit Murray, 69, and 21-year-old Oxford University student Daniel Knorr were found guilty of aggravated trespassing this afternoon.
Bourne, from Leeds, West Yorks, argued that England would have won the series had the Old Trafford Test not been rained off, claiming the weather had ‘more of an impact’ on The Ashes than their protest.
The trio admitted they had targeted the Test match at the home of cricket as they believe it will be one of the sports most adversely effected by the climate crisis.
But District Judge Neeta Minhas said there was clear evidence that all three had illegally trespassed onto the cricket pitch and delivered a guilty verdict.
However, she adjourned the sentencing until next month at Westminster Magistrates’ Court to allow for a pre-sentence report to be prepared.
The Judge added that a focus of the report would be to apply a ‘deterrent’ to the trio’s sentence to prevent others causing similar disruptions.
Bourne told the court he felt compelled to protest after watching Planet Earth II with David Attenborough to avoid what he described as an impending ‘apocalypse’ which will wipe out humanity.
Of his actions, Bourne said: “It has been four years where every day, pretty much all I think about is the fact that before the end of the century there’s a high likelihood that the climate crisis will result in the deaths of billions of people and the collapse of civilisation as we know it.
“I can’t just sit by and do nothing about it. Marches are ignorable. Nobody cares. But you have two people go on a cricket pitch and it gets on the front pages. We want to stop the expansion of fossil fuels. In this country, under the Paris Climate Agreement that the UK government agreed to… Their actions are currently going against that. [The climate crisis] will be a literal apocalypse within our lifetime. I know it was the right thing to do and I know history will judge me rightly.”
Bourne and Knorr, who both gave evidence shoeless at the stand, both told the court that cricket was the sport that would be most heavily affected by climate change.
Bourne, a cricket fan, even brazenly claimed that England would have won The Ashes had the fourth Test not been badly disrupted by rain and ended in a draw.
He said: “[The Ashes] is a massive sporting event with mass media coverage. Millions of people worldwide would hear about it - not just in the UK but in Australia, which is a massive coal and gas consumer. Cricket is one of the sports most effected by climate change. It’s played in nations which will be most hard hit by the climate crisis.
“India will probably become uninhabitable in the next 50 years. This summer we had twice the monthly rainfall. One of the test matches was called off because of the rain. You could argue that the weather had a bigger impact on the test than us. Which, by the way, we were going to win. We ended up losing to Australia and you could say it was climate changes’ fault.”
Knorr, when he gave evidence, said he had tried to strike up conversation with England wicketkeeper Jonny Bairstow as the star carried him off the field.
He said: “We were not taken by surprise when we were stopped. It was not a surprise to be intercepted, but it was a surprise that it was a cricket player. I was carried off by who I now know is Jonny Bairstow. I tried to strike up a conversation with him, but he didn’t seem very interested…”
All three defendants told the court their aim was to get media coverage, and that they were not aiming to damage the wicket and therefore cause the game - and possibly the series - to be abandoned. But the District Judge told the trio their aim was to ‘cause disruption to the game’ and found them all guilty.
She ordered a pre sentence report to deal with deterring others from committing similar acts, as well as punishment and rehabilitation. Each defendant will be required to pay £330 in court costs, as well as any other punishments.
The Judge added: “In my eyes, climate change is not sufficiently immediate to be used as a defence. Your conditional bail is extended until 9am on October 24. Between now and then, the only condition is not to go to any sporting ground or event.”
DJ Minhas adjourned the trio’s sentencing to October 24 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.