Bridge protestors guilty of public nuisance

Mick Ferris

Two men have been convicted after they caused widespread disruption in Essex and Kent when they climbed the QEII Bridge at the Dartford Crossing.

Morgan Trowland and Marcus Decker began climbing the bridge stanchions in the early hours of October 17 last year.

The men eventually climbed to about 200ft above the water and remained suspended over the carriageways. Their actions led to the bridge being closed for 41 hours.

They stated their actions were in protest but those actions caused disruption to hundreds of thousands of a people on the M25 and surrounding roads, many of whom lost out on salary, missed significant family occasions or could not access medical help when it was urgently needed.

Both men were removed from the bridge by specially trained officers on the afternoon of October 18.

Officers had trained on a specialist raised platform at a nearby fire station before it was brought to the bridge.

Once they were safe, both men were arrested on suspicion of causing a public nuisance and subsequently charged.

They denied the charges and a seven-day trial was held at Basildon Crown Court.

During the trial, the court heard from dozens of victims who were impacted by the actions of Trowland and Decker.

Those impacted included:

  • A heavily pregnant woman who needed urgent medical help
  • A child with additional needs who could not access his medication
  • One business lost a total of £24,000
  • A person who missed the funeral of their best friend of 35 years
  • A care provider lost £363 in earnings and could not provide essential care for patients
  • A business which lost between £160,000 and £170,000 in earnings
  • A clinical lead nurse could not make crucial child appointments
  • A woman who could not access an important medical appointment and was in pain

Today, Tuesday April 4, Trowland, 40, of Drummond Way, Islington, and Decker, 34, of no fixed address were both found guilty.

They will be sentenced on Thursday April 13.

Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow, who led the police response to the incident, said: “The actions of Trowland and Decker were incredibly dangerous; for themselves, for the officers who were tasked with dealing with them and for the many, many people whose lives were disrupted as a result.

“We know they both saw – and continue to see – their actions as protest. They were not. Their actions were juvenile and dangerous. That behaviour should never be repeated.

“In order to bring them down safely, I had to ask a small group of officers to take on a really dangerous task; to work at significant height and in difficult weather conditions to bring down two people who had voluntarily put themselves at risk.

He added: “The right to legitimate protest is not something we would ever seek to stop. We recognise that right and will always seek to safely facilitate it. But there can be no doubt that the actions of Trowland and Decker went far beyond that. It was criminal nuisance and greatly impacted many people.”

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: mickferris@yellowad.co.uk