An Extinction Rebellion protester who admitted causing criminal damage to Shell’s London headquarters has been handed a conditional discharge days after her co-defendants were cleared against the judge’s directions.
Katerina Hasapopoulous, 43, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday after earlier pleading guilty to criminal damage and having an article with intent to cause criminal damage.
Prosecutor Diana Wilson said the mother-of-four, from Stroud, Gloucestershire, had glued herself to a door and spray painted it at the Shell Centre in Belvedere Road, central London, as part of a demonstration on April 15 2019.
The protest, which also saw activists pour fake oil, break glass, climb on to a roof and spray graffiti, was said to have caused at least £15,000 of damage.
Two of Extinction Rebellion’s co-founders – Simon Bramwell, 49, from Stroud, and Ian Bray, 53, from Holmfirth, West Yorkshire – were acquitted of the same offences last week after a 10-day trial, alongside Jane Augsburger, 55, Senan Clifford, 60, David Lambert, 62, and James “Sid” Saunders, 41, who are all from Stroud.
The not guilty verdicts came despite them admitting causing the damage and Judge Gregory Perrins’ direction that they had no defence in law.
Sentencing Hasapopoulous to a six-month conditional discharge on each of the two counts, the judge told her: “Had they been found guilty you would have been sentenced alongside them and would have received a different sentence to the one you are going to receive today.
“However, it seems to me that it would risk real unfairness to punish you for an offence in circumstances where the jury found each of your co-defendants not guilty, notwithstanding the fact that they had each admitted the offence and had no defence to the charges.
“Your explanation for your behaviour was the same as theirs and so fairness dictates that there must be some acknowledgment in your sentence of the fact the jury did not consider your co-defendants to criminally culpable.”
Attending court with her partner and four young children, Hasapopoulous told the judge she had been “shocked” there were no provisions for mothers with babies in a “21st century court”, and had pleaded guilty because she could not face the trial.
Her six co-defendants, who represented themselves, told jurors they targeted the Shell building because the oil giant was directly contributing to climate change, causing serious injury and death, and argued it was a “necessary” and “proportionate” response to the harm being caused.
In his sentencing remarks, the judge stressed “this is an offence that would ordinarily call for greater punishment than you are receiving today”.
He added: “The only reason I am dealing with you so leniently is to achieve some degree of parity with your co-defendants.
“It should not be taken as any indication that any further cases of this nature will necessarily be dealt with in the same way or that the court takes the view that offences of this sort do not merit greater punishment.
“That would be a mischaracterisation of what has happened today.”