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Climate protesters facing jail over Barclays damage

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A group of climate protesters has been found guilty of causing criminal damage after smashing glass windows at the London headquarters of Barclays bank.

The seven women each denied the charge but were convicted over the incident at Canary Wharf on 7 April 2021.

They said they broke the glass windows to "raise the alarm" about the climate.

Prosecutor Diana Wilson told Southwark Crown Court the women could receive sentences ranging from community orders to 18 months in prison.

Carol Wood, 53, of Swansea; Nicola Stickells, 52, of Harleston; Sophie Cowen, 31, of Shaftesbury; Lucy Porter, 48, of Euston; Gabriella Ditton, 28, of Norwich; Rosemary Webster, 64, of Dorchester; and Zoe Cohen, 52, of Lymm, were all convicted of criminal damage worth almost £100,000.

They had spread out along the front of the Barclays bank building before using chisels and hammers to break the large glass panels that made up the exterior.

Their group was associated with climate change campaign group Extinction Rebellion.

They argued during the trial that Barclays staff would have consented to the damage if they were fully informed about the climate crisis.

Apart from Cowen, the six other women all have previous convictions for either criminal damage, wilful obstruction of a highway, breaching directions imposed on public assemblies or a combination of the three offences.

They were found guilty by a jury on a majority verdict of 11 to one after more than nine hours of deliberation.

There were 20 supporters in the public gallery, who gave the defendants a standing ovation after the hearing ended.

Defendant Webster told jurors Barclays was the global banking industry's seventh-largest funder of fossil fuels, and the largest in Europe.

She alleged the bank was "putting profits before people and the planet" and said she "cracked" the glass windows to "raise the alarm".

The prosecutor insisted this was not true during her closing speech.

She said the protesters had carried out the demonstration "to impose their views and to force change", and because they believed themselves "to be above the law".

During the trial, Some of the protesters likened themselves to the suffragettes, who "cracked many, many windows".

Cohen said she "honestly" believed that by April 2021 she had run out of other options to try to achieve change, and the repair costs of £97,022 were insignificant to Barclays, which had spent £100m on refurbishments last year.

Judge Milne KC said "all options" needed to be considered, before adjourning the sentencing to 27 January, also at Southwark Crown Court.