A jury has found peace activist Deidre Murphy guilty of calling in a bomb hoax in March during protests against the Cardiff arms fair, as several other similar cases hit the trial stages.
The pensioner denied making two calls to police to report a bomb in the city centre on March 28th, when anti-arms groups were besieging the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability (DPRTE) conference at Motorpoint Arena, but was convicted after a 15-minute recess.
Prosecutors said she made the calls from a phone box nearby, and said a bomb had been planted at the expo by “Radical Action Against War” — a search turned up no suspicious packages.
When she was arrested she was found to be carrying anti-war leaflets and during her interview said:
I just want to say one little brief thing. I think you have arrested the wrong person. I think the people you should have arrested are the arms dealers.
In court, Deirdre explained she had started off writing to her MP before beginning to protest and going to Gaza with aid, where she saw children the age of her grandchildren suffering. She said:
I am really glad to have the opportunity to speak to you directly. I want to explain my motivation. I believe with all my heart and mind that war crimes occurred inside the Motorpoint Arena that day.
My motivation that day was to stop the arms fair. I am not denying it — what I am saying is that I was trying to prevent something worse from happening.
Asked if she had considered the “panic and fear” caused to venue staff, she replied weapons cause panic and fear every day and her actions were proportionate.
She will be sentenced tomorrow. Maximum custodial sentence is seven years, though 2-3 is more common.
Supporters who were backing her at court included local Anarchist Black Cross and IWW branches, which said in a joint statement:
We are calling for support and solidarity for a good comrade and tireless anti arms trade activist who is on trial for direct action against the Cardiff arms fair. This woman could not stand by while arms dealers furthered their profits by marketing mass murder. Instead of acceptance she chose resistance and did all that she could to disrupt the death dealers.
She is very clear that her actions were necessary to prevent greater crimes but the judge has ruled that such a defence is not admissible. Evidently they won’t allow their courts to be used as a means to turn the tables and put the arms industry on trial. Now our comrade faces prison as the state seeks to make an example of her and discipline us all. It is crucial we stand together.
The Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability (DPRTE) is an opportunity for the arms industry and government representatives to conduct their murderous “business as usual,” leading to the arming of brutal regimes everywhere with all the latest tools for repression and wars. It was forced to move from Bristol in 2014 as a result of determined demos and actions and activists in Cardiff and beyond are aiming to do the same there. Get involved and help shut them down next year.
UPDATE, OCT 25: Deirdre has been handed a 12-week sentence suspended for 18 months, plus a £2,000 order for costs and a £115 victim surcharge.
More cases coming up
Sam Walton & Reverend Daniel Woodhouse are currently in the midst of a three-day trial over their attempt to break in to BAE System’s Warton Airbase to try and disarm warplanes.
The pair, who say they undertook the action to stop the greater crime of war planes being sold to Saudi Arabia for use in war crimes against the Yemeni people, successfully raised over £12,000 towards legal costs earlier this year and are hoping to push the issue to a jury trial.
November 10th meanwhile the is the first trial date for this year’s DSEI arms fair, which will be heard at Stratford Magistrates Court. Over 100 people were arrested during the week of action for blocking various aspects of the big murder jamboree
The defendants are being supported by Green and Black Cross (GBC), which has been calling for witness statements and evidence. You can find a witness statement template and some advice on drafting statements on the GBC website here:
Please send all materials to [email protected]