ANTI-FRACKING protesters said their actions had been treated as “acts of conscience” at the end of a year-long series of cases at York Magistrates' Court.

Forty-two people have appeared before the court on 55 charges connected with demonstrations against the activities of Third Energy near Kirby Misperton.

The first was arrested on September 20 last year, the last on January 30 this year.

All the cases have been heard by district judge Adrian Lower, who presided over a series of hearings beginning on October 19, and a series of trials starting on March 12.

Protester Edward Thornton, of Middleton, Pickering, said outside court: “The district judge recognises these are acts of conscience. He has sentenced people accordingly.”

About 20 people attended the last trial today (Wednesday, September 26) to support three defendants.

Christopher Stuart Wilson, 56, now of New Hope Protection Camp, Little Plumpton, Lancashire, was convicted of climbing onto a tanker that was delivering supplies to the Third Energy site. The offence happened in Main Street, Kirby Misperton, on January 3.

He had denied the charge and argued he should be acquitted because he was exercising his human rights of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and the right to live.

After the verdict, Wilson said he was on a four-week prison sentence suspended by magistrates in Lancashire for nine months because he refused to do 160 hours’ unpaid work ordered by district judge Lower for carrying a lock knife into York Magistrates' Court on December 21. The district judge ordered that sentence for the tanker offence should be passed by Lancashire magistrates later this year.

Christopher Jason Allport, 28, of Croft Head Terrace, Glusburn, Keighley, admitted the tanker charge and was given a two-year conditional discharge and ordered to pay a £20 statutory surcharge.

The prosecution offered no evidence on a charge of obstructing the highway against Leigh Coghill, 27, who had previously given an address of Acomb Way, Woodthorpe and was formally acquitted, and withdrew the same charge against Wilson.

One case has yet to be concluded. Benoir Douchy, 30, is wanted on warrant. He is believed to be abroad.